Nearly 600 attend Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Breakfast

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Arts Academy at Bella Vista students ended their musical performance with a heart-shaped world. The message of their performance was that everyone contributes to equality.

Liliana Castillo

Organizers and attendees of the 19th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Breakfast were glad that the near 600 who attended were a diverse group.

The event was held Saturday at the Clovis High School cafeteria and included a large presence of local government and area schools, including 30 students from the Arts Academy at Bella Vista, who performed for the audience.

“Martin Luther King would be pleased by our diverse group here,” Clovis MLK Commission President Joyce Pollard said, surveying the crowd from the podium. “It looks very nice.”

The group got to their feet after Zia fifth-grader Cam Kuykendall read his first-place winning speech in which he told a story of what an average day would look like if segregation was still in place.

“I think about what kind of a world this would be if Martin Luther King had not fought for everyone to be equal. He fought so that everyone in this room could have the same right,” Kuykendall said. “We can act by continuing to take a stand in everyday life to fight for equality.”

Each of the winners of the annual speech, essay and poster contests were presented their cash awards.

Clovis Christian School Superintendent Ladona Clayton served as the speaker for the event. She challenged the adults to be moved by what the students said and to live a life that reflects King’s philosophy of equality and nonviolence.

“Remember what Martin Luther King did for you and your rights,” Clayton said. “Celebrate him and his legacy. But most important, now we need to act.”

Clayton noted King’s accomplishments in his life, such as winning the Nobel Peace Prize, and talked about what kind of a leader he was.

“He fought valiantly for the advancement of civil rights, yet he chose nonviolence rather than violence to wage one of the most successful wars ever undertaken,” she said. “And his weapon of choice was love.”

Clayton urged attendees to learn how to become involved in nonviolence.

“How will we show our children what it means to live in harmony? How will we continue the legacy of nonviolence? If there is one act of violence in our community, that’s one too many. You must think that way,” Clayton said.

Clayton said she felt she met her goal of honoring King’s memory.

Pollard said Clayton perfectly represented the goals of King and the Clovis MLK Commission.

“I can’t express the way her speech just touched me. She put words into action today,” Pollard said.

Clovis resident Phillip Landers said he thought the breakfast celebration was excellent.

“I enjoyed this multicultural group we have here,” Landers said. “It speaks a lot about Clovis and how far we’ve come.”

Landers said the event was a good celebration of King.

“The dream is becoming a reality,” he said.

Celebration of King’s birthday continues with a commemorative walk beginning 9 a.m. Monday at Potter Park ending at Legacy Life Church.