Hundreds gathered at the Soka Gakkai International Auditorium in Santa Monica Monday to celebrate the life of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
The interfaith commemoration began with a program that included musical performances, inspirational readings and scholarship presentations to Santa Monica College students based on the theme, “Peace is not the absence of violence, it is the presence of justice.” The highlight of the event was the keynote address by Dr. Lawrence Edward Carter, Sr., the first dean of the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.
Carter told the crowd that King’s message was, “If we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we must undergo a radical revolution in values. We must radically begin a shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. The dream was driven by a unifying philosophy, and at the heart of that philosophy was the person, people, not property, not things.
“The reason we’re in trouble today is because American business and government at all levels are marginalizing people and putting profits at the center. When we put people back in the heart of everything…we will have a non-violent society and peace will reign.”
The dean also commented on the war in Iraq: “Look at the mess the president has gotten us into with his preemptive realization. He went around the United Nations. A female president would think a lot longer and consult more broadly before putting our young men in harm’s way.”
The event was coordinated by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition, a nonprofit organization comprised of a diverse group of Westside individuals, churches, institutions, community organizations and businesses. Its mission is to educate adults and youths, inspire community participation and promote Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ideals of understanding, knowledge and healing. The co-sponsors were the City of Santa Monica and the Santa Monica College Associates.