Special Note: Auburn Area Democratic Club member, Millee Livingston, is the founder of and spirit behind Auburn’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebrations. When Millee moved her 34 years ago and asked where the MLK celebration was going to be held, she was told there was no MLK Celebration in Auburn. So she stepped up and created our marvelous MLK Community Celebration in the name of one of America’s most peaceful, purposeful and successful leaders. Congratulations Millee on 34 years of offering our community this wonderful event!!!
On January 15 in Auburn at the General Gomez ARTS & Events Center, marked the 34th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. The program, “Passing the Torch” consisted of multi-cultural and multi-generational presentations of music, poetry and community voices.
The Rev. Gerry Paulsen, New Faith (UCC) kicked off the event with a welcome followed by Mignon Geli, Native American Flute Player. Loren Nakai, from Sierra Native Alliance, welcomed in the spirits with salutations to the North, South, East and West.
MC Anthony (Old Ghost) Harper, an activist and singer/poet, related the importance of the work we all need to do to keep Dr. King’s dream alive for our children. He reminded us that there are powerful voices trying to divide us. We must keep focused on what’s truly important and that’s the power of love.
“Passing the Torch” presentations offered an opportunity to hear the voices from people working with organizations who are doing work in the community to continue Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s dream of peace, justice and equality. The torch was passed to hear voices from Doris Romero Baccala and Tomas Evangelista, California Dreamers (DACA); Travis Lang, Sierra Native Alliance; Jack Kohler, On Native Ground; Eddie Barraza, YES Program and Auburn Hip Hop Congress and Millee Livingston, SFUU Social Justice Committee.
The torch was passed to Pastor Clay Rojas, Prison Families Aftercare; Jen Gomes, Volunteers of America-Homeless Shelter; Veronica Blake, Placer Community Foundation-Housing; Shelley Rogers, Coalition for Auburn & Lincoln Youth (CALY); and Ken Toketumi, Forgotten Soldiers Program.
The torch continued to be passed to Jennifer Montgomery, Placer County Supervisor, District 5, Sacramento Women’s March; Carly & Madeline Cramer, Placer County Youth Commission; Rev. Casey Tinnin, Loomis Basin Congregational Church, LGBTQ Youth; Jeanie Young, Auburn Co-Op and Rocky Zapata, Auburn Hip Hop Congress.
Lisa Joseph Boch, Natalie Zapata and J Ross Parelli voiced their experiences of intersectionality in their own lives and how white privilege can blind us to others in our society.
Pattiey Leftridge, D. Pierre Butler and Lisa Joseph Boch had everyone singing Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”. Pierre offered an original reading sprinkled with quotes from Maya Angelou. The Children’s Choir, some from Growing Peace Camp, sang a rousing rendition of “What Can One Little Person Do” with the audience chiming in on the chorus.
Closing remarks by Stan Padilla, local artist and activist, encouraged us all to keep moving forward. We marched to the downtown Auburn Fire Pit with signs made by the children. Stan Padilla offered a closing blessing. Lisa Boch led the group in song with Neena McNair and the Native Women’s Drum Group.
The MLK Organizing Committee, Millee Livingston, Rocky and Natalie Zapata, Leslye Janusz and Lisa Joseph Boch give special thanks to Mary Jane Popp of KAHI for the opportunity to publicize the event on her January 12 noon program; Coco and David Burns from the General Gomez ARTS & Events Center and to Dave Deckman for managing the sound . And thank you to Depoe Bay Coffee Co. for the refreshments; Pat Malberg, former Congressional candidate, District 4, for the Birthday Cake; the MLK Refreshments Committee; to Aurora Sain, Auburn Journal reporter and to Auburn Community members for their energy, time and donations to make this event uplifting, this year and for years to come.