MLK breakfast commemorates civil rights leader

Col. Dolores Forrest, with the 27th Medical Group, was the keynote speaker at the 2006 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Breakfast Saturday at Clovis High School. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Andy Jackson: CNJ staff writer

A young, black girl stood on top of a box, silent, while her white classmate spoke to the crowd.

”Do I have 60? Do I have 70? … Sold,” he said.

The painful reminder of the past was part of a performance of snippets from American history by Lincoln-Jackson Elementary students. The mock slave auction took place during Saturday’s 2006 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Breakfast at Clovis High School.

The fifth-graders performed short skits, songs and dances reflecting the history of black people in America for a crowd of educators, parents and public officials in the packed cafeteria.

With costumes, sounds and spirit, they danced to jazz; they sang Gospel; they drummed rhythms inspired by the African continent; they passionately belted out “Where is the Love,” by the Black Eyed Peas.

Keynote speaker Col. Delores G. Forrest of Cannon Air Force Base explained to the students that while segments of American history are unpleasant, lessons are learned from them, she said.

“The past, as disturbing as it may sound, is the foundation of our future,” said Forrest, commander of the 27th Medical Group at Cannon. “Never forget our past.”

Forrest encouraged students to go to the library and read books authored by King, one of the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winners in history.

“Now children, I’m saying it for the third time, it is vital that Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy be passed on,” said Forrest, a Danville, Ill., native who holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s in human resource management.

Drawing from King’s published writing, Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm highlighted the six principles of nonviolence, stressing one in particular.

“Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people,” she said.

Seidenwurm told the crowd her daughter is in Iraq — a great act of patriotism, she said. However, she said there is no greater act of patriotism than to look at the country and “point out when people are being judged by the color of their skin and not the content of their character,” she said.

Clovis City Commissioner Juan Garza kept his message brief, and it echoed.

“Remember, celebrate, act … let’s continue the dream,” he said.

All proceeds from the breakfast go to the Clovis Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Fund, according to the event handout.