OCEANSIDE — Civic leader and educator Raye Clendening was honored on Jan. 20 with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service award for her years of impactful community service.
She received the award at the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast.
Clendening, who is black, grew up in the South in the 1940s and 1950s.
She heard King speak after her family moved to Pasadena in 1957.
The experience had a lasting effect on her.
Clendening was 11 years old when she heard King speak at the Friendship Baptist Church.
King spoke about the travesties people faced in the South and described experiences that Clendening and her family had lived.
King’s speech changed her outlook and helped her come to terms with what she had faced without bitterness.
“As a child growing up in the segregated South I truly do understand what it means to live Dr. King’s dream,” Clendening said.
“I was very privileged to hear Dr. King speak.
“I have tried to live my life in a way that would be reflective of the kind of person that he would want me to be.”
Friends of Clendening said she experienced the strength of community activism and black and white individuals coming together for a greater good while she was in high school.
She went on to become a community leader.
Clendening worked as a K-12 educator for 35 years, and served as principal in Fallbrook Union Elementary School District and Oceanside Unified School District (OUSD).
As an educator she worked to create pathways for success for underserved students and inspire excellence in teachers, including championing programs that raised students grades and guided students and their parents through the college application process.
Clendening continues to work for OUSD as a consultant for their parent outreach programs that work to increase parent involvement in their child’s education.
Clendening’s accomplishments also include being a founding member of the North County African American Women’s Association, which brings women together to serve as mentors and role models.
She’s also been a longtime board member and current president of Vista Community Clinic, with a focus on programs for women and teens.
She can be credited with empowering and improving the lives of hundreds of young women, adult women and countless students.
Clendening has received numerous awards for her work in education and community service, and continues to further serve the community.