For Lodis Breakthrough Project, celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. provides the opportunity to remind people of Kings dreams and goals, and apply them to their lives today.
The group hosted an event Tuesday at Lodi Middle School to honor Kings memory and to consider his impact on Americans, young and old.
This is one piece in a large continuing effort to raise issues of diversity and tolerance and keep them on the front burner, Rev. James Bo Crow, an organizer of the event, said.
The Breakthrough Project is a community group that promotes racial and cultural diversity. It was formed in reaction to a cross burning at Tokay High School in 1998.
I hope that the Breakthrough Project turns into the breakthrough city and the breakthrough state and the breakthrough country, said Mamie Darlington, one of about 10 speakers featured at the celebration.
On stage along with Darlington were five other speakers who experienced King first-hand, and six students from local high schools who have felt Kings impact in their lives and hope to see similar progress in their futures.
Tiffany Johnson, a senior at Bear Creek High School, expressed her gratitude to King for helping create equal opportunity and the chance for her to attend college in America.
Everyone deserves a chance, said Johnson, who is black.
But not all of the speakers were so optimistic.
Darlington, a professor at the University of the Pacific, said our education system remains segregated, despite Kings work.
Only people like us can make Martin Luther Kings dream a reality, because it is not a reality in 2002, Darlington said.
Darlington was not alone in her assessment of current race issues.
A lot of things that were prevalent during Kings days are still prevalent today, said Cleve Gordon, another speaker at the celebration. Theyre just disguised better.
The event, which lasted about two hours, provided a mix of ideas. Criticisms about the current state of the educational system were offset by accounts from students who had made it through the system with success.
But everyone agreed that despite the revolutionary progress that King made, there is still a long way to go.
My dream is that one day we get rid of the hyphenated Americans African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans so we are all Americans as one. But thats not going to happen for a while, Gordon said.
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