Community breakfast celebrates civil rights

Community breakfast celebrates civil rights
Rob Howard serves as keynote speaker at the NAACP Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Breakfast on Jan. 15 in Oceanside. Howard talked about the origins of the holiday. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — The yearly North San Diego County NAACP Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Breakfast looked back at why Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated and ahead to what all of us can do to make our community better.

Keynote speaker Rob Howard, Utilities Workers Union of America business manager, shared a snapshot of historic racist acts and statistics on active hate groups, followed by a call to action.

Howard warned listeners that the history of how the country got to a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration is an uncomfortable and necessary discussion.

“If the truth makes you uncomfortable, that’s a conversation you might want to have,” Howard said. “We need to think about the damage that was done, and how we can move forward.”

He also spoke about how implicit bias hurts all of us. As an example, he shared statistics on how segregated public education lowered the quality of public education for all students.

Then he asked those present to become part of the solution and practice community leadership, set high standards for youth, continue civil rights discussions and financially support good causes.

“We should be lifting people’s burdens,” Howard said. “I hope we as a community will get to the promised land.”

His message received nods of agreement from church members, teachers, city staff and community volunteers gathered at the QLN Conference Center on Jan. 15.

Following the self-serve breakfast and keynote speech, city staff announced the recipient of the City of Oceanside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award. The annual award recognizes volunteer leadership efforts that reflect the teachings of Dr. King.

The nine nominees for the 2018 Community Service Award were Satia Austin, community activist, NAACP official and educator; Gigi Gleason, community volunteer; Larry Hatter, community activist; Valerie Pemberton, community leader and volunteer; Anne Speraw, community leader; and Genevieve Wunder, community volunteer.

Selected to receive the honor was Larry Hatter. Among his community contributions is his involvement with the Oceanside High School Foundation, high school scholarships, and the school’s Hall of Fame, which honors graduates’ life success. He is also credited for putting in long volunteer hours to help pass the school district bond, which funded the build and improve of district facilities.

Hatter also served on the city’s Affordable Housing Commission, as former president of the Chamber of Commerce and as a founding member of Friends of the Oceanside Public Library.

In accepting his award, Hatter spoke of the power of teamwork to get things done, and importance of education to move the city forward. In closing, Hatter set a goal to raise the education level of every household in Oceanside. He said accomplishing that would result in a better city and economy.

The city has granted the annual Community Service Award since 1990. Recent recipients of the honor include Gerald Hampton, community leader, activist and NAACP member; Edith Jones, community leader; Charles Adams, community leader; Raye Clendening, community leader; Max Disposti, community leader; Colleen O’Harra, community leader; and Kay Parker, community advocate for fair housing.

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