By Manny Otiko, California Black Media
The California Legislative Black Caucus hosted Donna Brazile, a national political figure, at its Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast held Thursday, January 11, to kick off a host of statewide marches, breakfasts and community events commemorating the life and legacy of MLK.
Brazile, two-time former chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and chair of former Vice President Al Gore’s presidential campaign, addressed more than 200 attendees in a speech that was layered with spirituals reflections and peppered with humor. She is also the author of the new tell-all book “Hacks,” which detailed her experience running the DNC under the hacking attack of the Russians during the 2016 election between then-candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Brazile also stressed the importance of working to realize the dream and challenging people to stir the pot.
Brazil spoke candidly about her role in lobbying to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday.
According to Brazile, King’s message of hope and racial tolerance is still relevant today.
“He (King) taught us to rise above hate,” she said.
She urged Americans not to look at the MLK holiday as just another day off, but a way to get involved. Brazile also challenged more African-American women to run for political office, especially at the local level.
“Because that’s where the action is,” she said.
Assemblymember Chris Holden, CLBC chair, also spoke at the event.
“We must always remember the rich history that surrounds MLK Day and reflect on how much work still remains to fulfill Dr. King’s dream,” said Holden. “In a national environment where divisive rallies and demonstrations are on the rise, it’s critical for African Americans to unite and stand against hatred bigotry.”
The breakfast also recognized a variety of statewide civil rights activists as “Unsung Heroes.”
“This year’s ‘Unsung Heroes’ are pillars in the Black community,” said Holden. “They continue the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through their voices and actions.”
This year’s Unsung Heroes were:
- Pamela Thornton, an advocate for fair land use operations.
- Joe and Ruthie Hopkins, owners/publishers of Pasadena Journal, a newspaper that serves the African American community in the San Gabriel Valley.
- Joseph Benjamin Hardwick, senior pastor of Praises of Zion Missionary Baptist Church.
- Kenya Fagbemi, program director for the Center for Community Health & Well Being.
- Tyree Boyd-Pates, history curator and program manager for the African American Museum.
- Jimmie Woods Gray, the first person of color elected as chairperson of the LA County Democratic Central Committee.
- Arnold Perkins, chair of Alameda County Juvenile Justice Commission and the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center Community Advisory Board.
- Dr. John E. Warren, a lifelong public servant, and publisher of the San Diego Voice and Viewpoint, a publication that works to keep the African American community in San Diego informed.
- Robert C. Farrell, a retired Los Angeles city councilman and lifelong public service mentor.
- Karen Earl, CEO of Jenesse Center Inc. The oldest domestic violence intervention and prevention program in South Los Angeles and recognized as the first shelter founded by African American women who are themselves survivors of domestic violence.
- Pleshette Robertson, CEO, and founder of Sac Cultural Hub, a Sacramento print and digital media company keeping Northern California urban communities informed with news, events and entertainment.
Holden added that the CLBC was pleased about working with Gov. Jerry Brown on legislation in 2017 such as the transportation bill, and looked forward to further collaboration this year.