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Lodi pays tribute to legacy of Martin Luther King

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Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013 5:50 pm

Andre Phillips was watching TV with his parents and siblings in 1968 when a newscaster announced that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., had been shot and killed.

“I can remember the look on my parents’ face,” Phillips said. “Dr. King represented a race of people.”

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Phillips, principal of Stagg High School in Stockton, gave a history lesson Monday about what it was like to live in the South during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. He was the keynote speaker at the Lodi Breakthrough Project’s Celebration of Unity, an annual observance of King’s legacy.

Although Phillips grew up in San Jose, his father was from Pine Bluff, Ark. Phillips, who later became an Olympic Gold Medalist in track before becoming an educator, remembers his father’s stories about African-Americans being excluded from certain restaurants, restrooms and businesses in the South.

His message was targeted to students who are too young to know what conditions were like for African-Americans in the South. Among the students were the Vinewood Elementary School choir from Lodi and the McNair High choir from Stockton, who performed at the mid-day Martin Luther King observance.

Phillips said he admired his father for insisting, like King did, to judge people by their character, not the color of their skin.

“If there’s anyone who would hate all white people, it would be my father,” Phillips said.

But Phillips’ father told his children to not show prejudice.

Monday’s observance also gave the nearly 200 people attending the event an overview of what the Breakthrough Project and the need for new members.

The Breakthrough Project was created almost 15 years ago as a response by concerned Lodi residents to hate crimes committed in Lodi. The group was formed after the 1998 cross burning at Tokay High School.

The Breakthrough Project has a partnership with the Lodi Police Department, in which Breakthrough members meet with victims of hate crimes or racial slurs.

Police Chief Mark Helms said that the Breakthrough Project has spread Martin Luther King’s ideals.

The Breakthrough Project has improved the quality of Lodi’s character,” Helms said.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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  • Josh Morgan posted at 8:58 am on Wed, Jan 23, 2013.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 529

    As expected, a response riddled with intolerance, hatefulness, jealousy and contempt.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 5:58 am on Wed, Jan 23, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 499

    Mr. Morgan, are you a spokesman for the good old boys or what? Your comment sounds like you speak for many of the people of Lodi? My "intolerance" was a suggestion to the elite community of Lodians who are known bigots and "good old boys" that maybe they should have attended this event to get a lesson on what it's like being a minority in 2013 in Lodi and finally open up communication and relations with the eastside minority communities and tear down that "berlin wall" they have constructed to segregate and isolate the residents there from the perks and city services afforded the influential parts of town, including the many poor white residents and many lifelong homeowners who are afraid to leave their homes at night, yet are afraid to complain for fear of retaliation by the gangs who dominate Lodi and the eastside. When Bob Johnson was introduced as mayor, he didn't even ask that a correction be made identifying Mr. Nakanishi as the actual mayor and this seems to be the attitude of the upper "echelon" in the city of Lodi with certain council members, management, staff and the good old boys regime that control Lodi with an iron fist. It will never change as long as you see the same three old duffers on council that always vote together to pass any issue or ordinance they so desire, completely ignore the bigotry and racism problem and bypass the eastside with their constant pandering to local developers, builders, contractors, wealthy, influential and good old boys and girls, which happen to include few minorities, poor whites and the worsening gang, drug and blight problems to continue while their pandering to those special groups and individuals is so openly apparent, with no one to call them out. Maybe you should watch some "Dukes of Hazzard" reruns and see the similarity between Bozz Hawgs and many dominant, greedy personalities in Lodi. Be a little more "observant" Mr. Morgan.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 12:26 pm on Tue, Jan 22, 2013.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4306

    Great comments, Mr. Chaney. As a "Lodi" event, the individuals you mentioned should have been in attendance. Don't expect COL employees to be there unless they are getting paid over and above holiday pay. After all, most don't even contribute to their own pension funds and are happy to have you and I pay the bill.

    When I drove my daughter to work yesterday, she said, "Why am I working on a federal holiday?....Oh, that's right, Lodi doesn't celebrate MLK day."

  • Josh Morgan posted at 7:06 am on Tue, Jan 22, 2013.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 529

    Doug, you are correct......it was a wonderful ceremony. But why do you spend the first half of your post being intolerant of a group of people you "think" should have been in attendance at an event that was all about tolerance? Is it possible for you to post one comment that doesn't include criticism of someone or group of people? It really detracts from your message. The second half of your message was thoughtful and sincere but many people won't even get to that part after reading the first half. It's will be "ol Doug is at it again". You can help yourself by knocking that chip off your shoulder.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 8:59 pm on Mon, Jan 21, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 499

    This was an enlightening event today and many Lodians could have gotten their first lesson on tolerance had they attended today. Unfortunately there were few council reps, management,staff, good old boys and girls and the personalities that seem to dominate the Anglo community in attendance. Bob Johnson showed up and I heard him declared the mayor of Lodi, which he didn't even have the guts to correct, but seems like he took an early departure, as he seems just to make a cameo appearance at events like these to make people think he's really interested. The keynote speaker, Mr. Phillips,Stagg high principal, was the highlight of the event with his epilogue of his own personal experiences being a young black man growing up in Arkansas and being highly inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King. The choirs from Stagg high and Vinewood showcased their talents with their fine voices and Mr. Jim Jordan sang his rendition of Martin, Luther and John and while showing his immense emotion, brought the same tearful emotion to many in the audience, including myself. Thank you Breakthrough Project for your great event and organizers for putting on such an emotional and heartwarming event.



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