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MLK celebration preserves Dr. King’s dream

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Community members join hands as they sing “We Shall Overcome” during a Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Sunday at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School.

Eighth-grader Annelise Stephens of Desmond Middle School stood at the lectern and immediately addressed the theme of the Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration: The Dream Must Go On. She said, “Depending on who you talk to, the dream can be many thing .... My dream is for everyone to be treated equally.”

The event was held Sunday at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, and Annelise continued, “The dream must go on because my generation will insist upon it.” She told a smaller-than-usual audience, thinned by the San Francisco-Green Bay Championship football game, that “we need to work hand in hand with our fellow citizens to create a more peaceful society.”

Her speech was sandwiched between remarks by two students from Voyager Secondary School who informed the audience about the dire circumstances in which they had lived and how they were working to change their lives.

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Student speaker Annelise Stephens talks about “Why the Dream Must Go On,” during the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.


“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” He added his own remarks: “As for me, I choose to be generous in spirit and heart ...” he said. “I choose to make Dr. King’s dream continue.”

The other Voyager Secondary School student told the audience that “I have made many mistakes that I cannot change.” He cited Dr. King’s remark, “It is the quality, not the longevity, of one’s life that is important.” He vowed to make the quality of his life one that would exemplify the idea that the dream must go on.

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Master of Ceremonies Noel Jimenez presents Alvero Martinez, left, with a certificate of achievement during a Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Sunday.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration was hosted by the MLK Local Host Committee, presided over by Ruth Henderson. She welcomed guests to the 2020 event, and Noel Jimenez, principal of Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School acted as emcee for the afternoon. Choir teacher Kirsten Smith led a blended choir from Desmond, Jefferson, and King middle schools in “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and “We Shall Overcome,” in which the audience also participated. Pastor Charles Fryer gave the invocation at the beginning of the ceremonies and the benediction at the conclusion of the event.

Angel Reyna gave the keynote speech. Reyna is the new president of the Madera and Oakhurst Community College Centers. He talked about growing up in the fields of Yakima Valley, Wash., where his family of migrant workers toiled. His story is one of persistent upward educational and social mobility. Eventually, he earned his Master’s Degree from Washington State University, and he is now in the process of earning his doctorate in organizational leadership from Northeastern University, Seattle.

Reyna said that he believes that an important part of his job is removing the barriers to education that hamper the progress of many students who live in circumstances similar to those that he experienced.

In his own life, he has been a farm worker, mayor of the City of Mabton, Washington, and Vice President of Instruction at Renton Technical College, all in the State of Washington.

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