Forest Grove community celebrates life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Local community members brave the elements to take part in University's annual honoring of Dr. King.
Frigid weather in downtown Forest Grove on Monday failed to extinguish Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s eternal flame of hope for world peace and equality.
Despite intermittent snow flurries and temperatures in the mid-20s, close to 150 children, parents and other locals braved the elements to take part in Pacific University's annual MLK Celebration.
Festivities began with a traditional march, featuring Roots and Shoots Peace Doves, from the Forest Grove School District administrative building on Main Street to the steps of Pacific's Marsh Hall.
For the first time, participants marched to the famous words of Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech, as volunteers young and young-at-heart read excerpts from the address throughout the eight-block procession.
Following the march, attendees gathered inside the University Center to celebrate Dr. King's legacy. They made paper peace crane bird cutouts, participated in songs of peace, enjoyed pie and other pastries and listened keenly to words of inspiration and calls to action.
"Today, we honor greatness," said Eva Krebs, Pacific vice president for student affairs and dean of students. "Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and others like them are constant reminders of the greatness that lies in each of us."
Amber Woodford, a senior at Forest Grove High School, spoke on behalf of the local Roots and Shoots chapter. Roots and Shoots is a worldwide network founded by Dr. Jane Goodall dedicated to world peace, animal welfare, the environment and human dignity.
The organization embarks on local and global community service projects in these areas. One such endeavor is the Peace Doves project.
The doves, featured so prominently in the march, are made of recycled chicken wire covers and bamboo. Similar doves from around the world take part in the annual International Day of Peace each September.
Charlie Graham, a teacher at Forest Grove Community School and group leader of Roots and Shoots, enlightened the audience on the story of the Origami Crane from its humble beginnings in Japan to becoming another international symbol of peace.
The project was borne out of the tragic death of Sadako Sasaki, whose Leukemia is believed to have resulted from the bombing of Hiroshima during World War II.
Children around the world make paper peace cranes and send them to Hiroshima along with wishes for healing and peace. Graham and other Roots and Shoots members taught other attendees how to make their own cranes.
Graham and a group of children then sang "Cranes over Hiroshima" in honor of Sasaki and others like her who have suffered.
Pies for Peace founder and community activist Carol Woodford gave the keynote address.
"I've learned many important lessons from Dr. King," Woodford said. "And one of the most important is this: if you see something that disturbs or angers you - poverty, war, injustice - do something about it. Dr. King said, 'Take the first step.'"
In response to the country's second war with Iraq, Woodford and two close friends, depressed by the inevitable casualties of war, took a first step. They began baking pies with all proceeds donated to MercyCorps, a Portland-based humanitarian relief agency.
"We decided we needed to do something positive, something to promote peace," she said. Woodford credited the Forest Grove United Church of Christ with helping Pies for Peace develop early on.
"Without the United Church of Christ, there would be no Pies for Peace."
In nine years, Pies for Peace has raised more than $40,000 for the agency to support relief initiatives in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as countries devastated by large natural disasters.
Initiatives that Pies for Peace funds directly contributed in Iraq include restoration of water lines and wells, microloan programs for women starting businesses and cash for work programs that have resulted in the rebuilding of roads and schools.
"It's a wonderful thing that we're here today and honor the man who meant so much to us and who taught us so much," Woodford said. "But if you really want to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, take that first step and do something to promote the values that Dr. King held so dearly: justice, equality and peace."
Jim Moore, director of Pacific's Tom McCall Center for Policy Innovation and emcee, concluded the speaking by noting that Dr. King is known globally for much more than racial equality.
"Martin Luther King was recognized in the world as one of many who helped struggles for the poor, the disenfranchised and different ethnic groups," he said. "To the world, he is the peace prize winner who inspired, as Gandhi did, people to use non-violent means to try to get their ideas across."
Moore noted that it happened in Egypt a year ago and could perhaps happen in North Korea.
The celebration concluded with the audience standing and participating in singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing."
Posted by Joe Lang (email@example.com) on Jan 16, 2012 at 3:52 PM
Edited by Stephanie Haugen (firstname.lastname@example.org) on May 1, 2012 at 4:12 PM