REDDING, Calif. – Starting this weekend, a potpourri of events will take place in Shasta County to commemorate the 50th anniversary of one of the most famous speeches of all times: Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” address before a quarter-million civil rights supporters in Washington, D.C.
Themes of “See the Vision…Live the Dream” and “Bridging Differences: Celebrating Diversity” set the tone for what organizers hope will be thoughtful and joyous community celebrations.
“By having several events, we’re hoping this will help people to attend at least one,” said community organizer Eddie McAllister. He noted his excitement that Shasta County “would have two celebrations of Dr. King’s speech in four days.”
Activities begin at 3:30 p.m. Saturday with a community celebration featuring guest speakers and a community choir at First United Methodist Church in Redding. Marty Murdock, former pastor of the church and an eyewitness as a child to the famous 1963 March on Washington, will be the keynote speaker. Redding jazz pianist Cleveland Boney and Pastor Bonnie Daniels will lead the newly formed choir.
A multicultural cuisine tasting follows at the church at 5:30. The food will be an ethnic extravaganza, prepared by north state Hispanics, Southeast Asians, Italians, American Indians, Hawaiians, Japanese, West Africans, African-Americans, Indonesians, Greeks, and other groups, McAllister said. The tasting will include a facilitated discussion that asks participants “what is your vision of a ‘beloved community’?” King frequently talked about “the beloved community” and “table of brotherhood.”
“We just want to get some out-of-the-box ideas … something we can work with at a later date,” McAllister said. “We’re planning for another activity down the road.”
At 8 p.m., the Shasta County Interfaith Forum will sponsor an hourlong “Bridging Differences” celebration—culminating in a march across the Sundial Bridge—at the amphitheater behind the Redding Convention Center. The evening will include music, practices by spiritual leaders from the Sikh, Jewish, Quakers, Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian and American Indian traditions, and comments from Record Searchlight Editor Silas Lyons.
Those attending the evening event are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets and drinking water.
A second day of commemoration takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 28 during Shasta College’s annual Welcome Day in the quad. Welcome Day typically features vendors and organizations that provide information to students; this year it will also include a program with speakers and a march at 11 a.m. in honor of King.
While many local businesses and groups have helped sponsor the activities, the main source of funding for Saturday’s events will come from the sale of commemorative T-shirts, lanyards and wristbands, McAllister said. The Service Employees International Union donated funds to produce the shirts, which feature King’s image, a quote from his speech, and “See the Vision…Live the Dream.”
T-shirts are $15 for adults, $10 for kids; lanyards and wristbands cost $3. The items are available at Enjoy the Store at 1475 Placer St. in Redding and at the First United Methodist Church office. Shirts also will be on sale at Saturday’s events, beginning at 3:30 p.m.
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision and dream was to have a beloved community,” McAllister said. “Shasta County is blessed to have two celebrations working toward that vision and dream.”
Candace L. Brown has been a newspaper and magazine reporter and editor for 20 years. She lives in Redding and can be reached at email@example.com.