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The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) of greater Los Angeles kicked off King Week 2009 earlier this week with a town hall forum on LAPD racial profiling, and will end the weeks worth of events celebrating King's birthday on January 15 with the 32nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Gala/L.A.'s Pre-Inauguration party at the Downtown Millennium Biltmore. All events during the week are open to the public.
On Friday the 9th there will be a press conference/kick-off event, which is free to the public. City officials, community leaders, and sponsors will officially start Black History Month with the SCLC.
On Saturday the 10th the Annual Multi-Faith Prayer Breakfast will be held at Holman United Methodist Church. The keynote speaker will be Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, Presiding Prelate of the 5th Episcopal District. Every faith/religion is invited to celebrate the message of equality, freedom, justice and peace promoted by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Jeffrey Coprich's L.A. Inner City Mass Choir will perform. Tickets for the event are $35.
On Monday the 12th there will be a town hall forum on women in the labor movement, co-sponsored by Los Angeles Commission on Women and the SCLC. This event will take place at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center at 6 pm, and is free to the public.
On Tuesday the 13th there will be a SCLC Business/Community Mixer at The Townhouse in Ladera Heights at 6 pm. This event is a collaboration of SCLC, Black Business Association, Pacific Coast Regional, New Frontier Democratic Club and the National Black Business Association.
On Wednesday the 14th there will be a town hall forum on the failure of public education. This event will be held at Bethel AME Church at 6 pm.
King Week 2009 will conclude on Thursday the 15th with the 32nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Gala/L.A.'s Pre-Inauguration Party at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles.
At the event attorney Ricky Ivie, President of the SEIU SOULA Local 2006 Faith D. Culbreath, community activist Willis Edwards, Bishop Noel Jones, and entertainer/entrepreneur/community activist Percy "Master P" Miller will be honored.
Ivie, who graduated from Fremont high school and UCLA, and who is a founding partner of Ivie, McNeil & Wyatt, will be receiving the Drum Major Award for his efforts to fight for social justice for people of color. The greatest part of the civil rights moment was affecting legislature to ensure people rights. Ivie has continued the work of the leaders of the civil rights movements.
Culbreath will receive the Rosa Parks Award for her efforts to obtain fair wages for the security officer's union, which is predominantly African-American. The SCLC has always played a role in the fight for livable wages. When Dr. King was assassinated he was fighting for fair wages and working conditions for sanitation workers in Memphis. The SCLC is honoring Culbreath because labor rights and civil rights go hand-in-hand.
"This award means a great deal to me as a social and economical activist," Culbreath said. "It is very exciting to receive such a prestigious award."
Edwards will receive the first ever President's Award. Like Dr. King, Edwards has committed his life to fighting for equality and justice for oppressed peoples. Edwards was the president of the Beverly Hills/Hollywood Branch of the NAACP in 1982. He campaigned for Senator Robert F. Kennedy and was at his side when he was assassinated. In 1986 Edwards persuaded NBC to nationally televise the NAACP Image Awards, with Edwards as the producer. He also coordinated Nelson Mandela's visit to Los Angeles in 1992.
"The Rosa Parks, the Medgar Evers, and the Martin Luther Kings are the heroes and sheroes of my life," Edwards said. "I know that they would be smiling down on us and saying 'job well done', but we have more work to do."
Bishop Jones will receive the Thomas Kilgore Prophetic Witness Award because he has demonstrated a ministry where people are free from oppression. Jones is a columnist, prolific orator, and theatrical producer. As a columnist in the nation's premiere gospel publication, Gospel Today Magazine, Bishop Jones is also a frequent guest on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and has appeared as a panelist on both C-SPAN and NPR. In 1994, Bishop Jones founded Noel Jones Ministries.
Miller is not only being honored for his success as an entertainer and entrepreneur, but also for his efforts to keep young men out of gangs and out of prison. He has used his money, his voice, and his resources to benefit children who other wise may not of had certain opportunities. Miller has been a positive role model of what a father should be. He helped his son Percy "Romeo" Miller launch a successful music career, and also helped him earn a basketball scholarship to USC.
King Week is a fundraiser to help support the programs that the SCLC offers to the community. The beginnings of the SCLC can be traced back to the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. The organization was formed in 1956, which King as the first president.
The SCLC is now a nation wide organization. Its sphere of influence and interests has become international in scope because the human rights movement transcends national boundaries.
We see a part of King's reality with Obama's election, said Eric Lee, President of the Board of Directors of the SCLC Dream Foundation. "But there is still a lot of work to be done to realize Dr. Kings dream of equality."