Marin City celebrated the Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Birthday on the afternoon of Jan. 18, 2021. The theme this year was “Passing the Torch.”
Marin City Community Service District and Oshalla Diane Marcus co-produced the program at the MC Art and Culture Gallery in Marin City. It was seen virtually through hopin.
Dr. William “Bill” Riley, EdD, the president of the Peralta Community College District’s Board of Trustees, was the keynote speaker. During his message “Reflections on Passing the Torch,” Riley lists the many Black people who have passed away and are passing the torch since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
King’s great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were all ministers, and they passed the torch of leadership to King. According to Kimberly Powell of Thot.com, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s father, Martin Luther King, Sr. was a pastor for the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. His maternal grandfather, Rev. Adam Daniel Williams, was famous for his fiery sermons. His great-grandfather, Willis Williams, was an “enslavement-era preacher.”
Now, 61 years later, Rev. Raphael Gamaliel Warnock, the current pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, was just recently elected as a U.S. Senator in Georgia.
In 1957, King passed the torch to the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the National Urban League, and the Voters Education Project.
Sport figures who have passed or are passing the torch: Muhammad Ali, Wilma Rudolph, Willie Mays, Bill Russell, Stephen Curry, Tiger Woods, Venus and Serena Williams.
Civil rights activist Rosa Parks and poet Maya Angelou have passed the torch.
Black artists have passed the torch by raising funds and bringing the artistic consciousness to the cause. Entertainers, such as Harry Belafonte, Mahalia Jackson, Denise Nicholas, James Brown, Eartha Kitt, Lena Horne, and Dick Gregory, played crucial roles in raising money to further the cause.
Politicians who have and are passing the torch are: John Lewis, President Barack Obama, Mayors Willie Brown, London Breed, and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“We would need to compete with people of all races and nationalities. Therefore, we cannot just merely be good in our work and calling. We must set out to do our best, irrespective of our race, and do it so well that nobody else can do it any better,” says Riley.
“Where would you be now if King, who said in 1956, ‘I still believe that love is the most durable power in the world,’ had not been a person of radical love and didn’t pass the torch,” asks Riley. “Who in your life has passed the torch to you? Have you accepted it?”
“I leave with this” say Riley, “keep Marin City passing the torch. Many thanks to the Marin City MLK Coalition Celebration and may Godspeed.”