“I Have a Dream” Plus 50 – Some Scenes and Video from Sunday’s Rally

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Sunday’s rally at Sasscer Park commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the “March on Washington for Jobs and Peace” — best known for Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s classic “I Have a Dream” speech — lasted from 2:00 to about 5:30 p.m, peaking early on, I’m told, with about 200 participants.  I can’t testify to that; I had spend the earlier part of the day involved with another political matter (found elsewhere on these pages); Vern was there the entire time, though, providing the keyboards, and will I hope weigh in with his take.  (For our earlier pieces, here’s mine on how the rally came together and here’s Vern’s channeling of activist Jonathan Adler on the theme of voting rights.

Dream @ 50 rally -- organizer Felicity Figueroa and others observe events

“I Have a Dream + 50” rally in Santa Ana — organizer Felicity Figueroa and others observe events.

Rally organizer — one among many, but a particularly effective one — Felicity Figueroa, who is pictured above, provided me with a schedule for the event, which will give those of you who were there an idea of the attentiveness with which it was put together and make those of you who missed it sorry that you did:

DJ / Sound Set-up begin

Stage delivery / set-up scheduled
Steering Committee arrives Layout booth space

Booth set-up scheduled to begin

Food truck arrives

Vehicles clear park
Begin recorded music set (60’s protest music…)

Participants begin arriving

Final song in music set as lead in to introduction “Come Together”
Bobby McDonald (15 min)
Introduce yourself as MC – brief bio
Introduce notable attendees
Why we are here today

National Anthem (2 min)
Vocalist: Gregorio Manabat
Accompanist: Vern Nelson
“Lift Every Voice” (5 min)
Vocalist: Lester Ricks
Recorded version in background – Bill Severns

Bobby McDonald (15 sec each)
Introduce each religious leader in turn for their respective invocation
2-3 min
Cantor Marcia Tilchin – Cantor at Congregation B’nai Israel in Tustin since 2002
2-3 min Rev. Mark Whitlock – Pastor of Christ Our Redeemer A.M.E. Church (COR Church) in Orange County, CA since August
2-3 min
Rev. Dr. Sarah Halverson – Pastor of Fairview Community Church (progressive congregation of the American Baptist Churches USA and the United Church of Christ)
3-4 min
Rev. Abel López – Rector at Episcopal Church of the Messiah
2-3 min
Rev. Chineta Goodjoin – Founding pastor at New Hope Presbyterian Church in Orange
2-3 min
Hussam Ayloush – Executive Director of CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), Los Angeles Chapter
Conclude with “Amazing Grace” (3 ½ min)
Vocalist: Lester Ricks
Accompanist: Vern Nelson

Bobby McDonald – 5min
March details
o Route – Leave park through far corner, headed down 5th Street. Turn right on Broadway, proceed on Broadway to 4th. Turn right on 4th St. and return to park
o Stay on sidewalk – we are not allowed to be in street or interfere with traffic.
o March monitors are spread along route to direct and assist. Please cooperate with them.
o As we begin each verse of “We Shall Overcome”, groups (40-50) led by steering committee members, will exit the park to begin marching.

Vocalist begins “We Shall Overcome” accompanied by karaoke backing track
March begins as groups peel off and proceed to crosswalk

All marchers are enroute.
Recorded music continues (current music with social justice theme) – Bill Severns

Final Song as lead in “In the Name of Love” by U2
Bobby McDonald
Transition remarks 30 secs
Introduce Speakers in turn – 30-45 sec each

4-6 min
Jim Aynes Jim Aynes has been a California lawyer for over 35 years. He served as an attorney for the cities of Orange and Huntington Beach, for the Orange County Department of Education, and was appointed by the Governor as the Attorney for the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Jim has been active in politics for over 50 years and is a former member of Log Cabin Republicans.

4-6 min
Dr. Pat Adelekan Dr. Pat Adelekan is a 1997 Hall of Fame Educator and holds a Ph.D. in Educational Evaluation from the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. She is the founder of Youth-On-The-Move Education International.

4-6 min
Dr. Donald Craig – President NAACP – OC branch

Bobby McDonald 30-45 sec each

Introduce Choir & Gary Gray in turn
4 min First Drops Interfaith Children’s Choir performs “We Are Drops” – a Baha’i unity song First Drops is a children’s interfaith organization. Its mission is to promote understanding and respect for all cultures and religions through education, sacred site visits and community service. The organization was founded in 2011 with 4 children and has now grown to over 90 children.___________________________________

Abraham Medina – Poem: “Mr. President, I still have a Dream”
5 min

“Our World” by Gary Gray
“Our World” was written by Los Angeles native songwriter Michael Abreu as a tribute to MLK’s vision and dream for a world without violence — where positive change follows powerful, effective peaceful action and constructive open communication. September 1, 2013; the 50th Anniversary Coalition for Jobs, Justice and Freedom marks the World Premiere release and performance of “Our World,” sponsored by Orange County’s own Gary Gray, producer and orchestrator, who works for the Walt Disney Film Music division.

Bobby McDonald 30-45 sec each
Introduce each speaker in turn

15 min
Sandra Robbie and representatives of plaintiffs’ families
Sandra is project manager for the Career Development Center at Chapman University. She received the Civil Rights in History Award from OC Human Relations as the writer/producer of the Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary Mendez vs. Westminster: For All the Children / Para Todos los Niños. This previously little-known Orange County school desegregation case preceded the 1954 landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case by seven years.

4 min
Gurveer Singh
Gurveer is an eighth grader at Fairmont Private School who participates in Pentathlon and Speech and Debate. He is from the Sikh faith and has learnt to read and write Gurmukhi, the Punjabi script.

17:10 Vocalist: Lester Ricks – Lester Ricks was born in Dublin, Georgia. He has been singing since he was a child and came to California while serving in the Navy.
Accompanist: Vern Nelson

Bobby McDonald 1 min each
Introduce each speaker in turn

10 min
José Moreno Dr. Moreno is a Latino studies professor at Cal State Long Beach and board clerk of the Anaheim City School District. He currently serves as President of Los Amigos of Orange County. Established in 1978, Los Amigos of OC meets every Wednesday morning at 7:30am at the Jagerhaus Restaurant in Anaheim to discuss issues and concerns affecting Latino communities in Orange County.

10 min
Dr. Thomas A. Parham Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D. is Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs, as well as an adjunct faculty member at the University of California, Irvine. Among his many civic contributions, Parham is a founding member and past president of the 100 Black Men of Orange County, chaired Irvine’s Human Relations Committee and Planning Commission, and was president of both the Association of Black Psychologists and the Association for Multicultural Counseling & Development.

This sort of event looks a lot easier until you see all of this written down, doesn’t it?

Dream & 50 -- Thomas Parham

UCI Vice-Chancellor Thomas Parham gives a speech on civil rights at the Santa Ana commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, which occasioned Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

I had aimed to arrive at 4:15 — perhaps to sneak in at the end of the march and pretend that I’d make it through the whole arduous route.  Instead, I arrived at 4:59.  (This is my way.)  The program was a little ahead of schedule — normally something unthinkable at such a rally — so I enjoyed some music, took some photos, and then sat down to enjoy the speech of UCI Associate Chancellor Thomas Parham.  It took me about a minute to realize that I really ought to be recording it, so here’s everything he said past that point.  (The section preceding the moment when I finished cranking my phone and got the video working was one in which he talked about the misinterpretation and misuse of King’s famous “35 words,” which includes the phrase of looking forward to a day when children were judged by “the content of their character” —  the arrival of which is not a determination than King would have willingly left to those very readily self-forgiving political descendants of the people who had imposed Jim Crow onto the South (and parts of the North.)

Needless to say, it’s worth your time.

(Damn, he’s good!)

By the time I arrived, the crowd had dwindled to around 50 or so.  It was no March on Washington ’63, or even Washington or Los Angeles ’13, but it still felt good to honor the tradition.  I thought for a moment of what I would say had I had been called to the podium to give a final speech for the day in my capacity as … I don’t know, blogger?  It might have gone something like this.

We are gathered here today to honor the 51st anniversary of an important day in the history of the struggle for civil rights, August 28, 1962.  The events of August 28, 1962 have, of course, largely been lost to history, being far outshone by the events on August 28, 1963, when a throng of people came to the Capitol Mall to hear speakers including Martin Luther King Jr. give what would become historic speeches.  What happened a year earlier, I can only surmise.

What I think happened on that day in 1962 was smaller, rather than larger, than the rally we have held today.  It was not one event, but many — events that perhaps did not stand out so starkly from those of the day before or the day after.  On August 28, 1962, people met in pairs, trios, small groups, perhaps some slightly larger gatherings, to learn from each other, to support one another, to give each other ideas and instructions, to fuel a movement for justice that, although they did not likely realize it at the time, a year later would lead to this great and historic event on the Mall.  On August 28, 1962, people studied alone, read newspapers and pamphlets of the day, preparing themselves to carry a message to individuals, and to the world, of the need for justice and jobs and peace.

We celebrate August 28, 1962, that nondescript day mostly lost to memory, because it is the accretion of days like that — the accretion of meetings, the accretion of work, the accretion of determination to make change — that lead to the massive and historical events like those of August 28, 1963.

We don’t have to charge ourselves with matching the grandeur of that day in 1963.  We need only charge ourselves with matching the simpler and more humble grandeur of that day in 1962 — of all 365 of those days in 1962, in fact — and the hundreds of days in 1963 that led up to that historic moment.  Let us dedicate ourselves to practicing what we preach on those small days, from which the glorious events of those famous days may then arise, as if from a dream.

So, happy 50th anniversary of a major day in the struggle for civil rights — and happy 51st.

But I didn’t get to give a speech like that.  There was no open mic at the end of the event.  They were far too organized for the likes of that.! And that itself is a good sign.  Congratulations to those who organized and to those who took part.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)