In Turlock’s first-ever Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration, the civil rights leader’s life was honored and his example of non-violent protest against racial inequality was exalted at an event held at Westside Ministries on Monday.
Westside Ministries founder and director JoLynn DiGrazia called the event an “epic” day for Turlock. In previous years, the ministry recognized MLK Day with acts of service, but this year DiGrazia said the organization decided to do something more spiritual in nature “that fed our souls and helped us to continue on to serve others in the next year.”
Westside Ministries hosted a community service in honor of MLK Day that included a viewing of King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech delivered during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963, special performances by the Center for Urban Performance and Service dancers and guest speaker Dr. Venessa Battle.
Battle is the president of Kingdom Culture Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia and has ministered internationally in over 22 countries. DiGrazia introduced her as the “the premier racial expert amongst Christians, along with John Perkins.”
In her speech, Battle especially encouraged young people to get involved in social justice.
She informed the audience that King was in his early 20s when he became a civil rights leader. At 35 years old, he was also the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work leading a nonviolent movement in the 1950s and ‘60s to achieve legal equality for African-Americans in the United States.
“As young people, you have a certain power that God has given you so when you see injustices there should be something in you from God, the love of God, that will rise and say we need to handle some of these things.
“You don’t have to wait until you’re old and can’t do anything…He wants your best years.”