News Column

Many Cultures Share the Spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.

Jan 14, 2013

K.C. Mehaffey

Martin Luther King Jr.

In the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., people of many cultures who live in the Wenatchee Valley came together in a "beautiful symphony of brotherhood" Saturday.

It will be 50 years this August since King delivered his famous, "I Have a Dream" speech.

And his dream was being realized by those who came to the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center to celebrate this region's diversity.

They came to watch performances by Irish, Mexican, Native American and Hawaiian dancers, along with a Japanese magician, and a mariachi band.

They came to see the amazing clothing, art, and foods from 17 countries as diverse as Ecuador and Thailand.

They came to taste Italian spaghetti and Mexican tacos.

"It's amazing for a town our size to see how many people we have from different cultures," said Pauline Sweeney, museum secretary who's been involved for all five years.

This year, the museum's Multicultural Festival joined with Wenatchee for its annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, which has been held for eight years.

Jeff Stevens, chairman of the city's Diversity Council, said that leaves next weekend open to remember Martin Luther King Jr. by giving something back, and doing something to help others. He encouraged everyone to join the city in a knit-a-thon, or find their own ways to help others.

On Saturday, those who regularly give back were recognized with the city's 2013 Civil Rights and Social Justice Awards. The awards are given every year to an individual, a business and an organization to recognize those who work toward social justice.

A couple -- Jesus and Melissa Hernandez -- received the individual award. Both immigrants in the U.S., the couple has served on many boards and committees, and both were recognized for working with families who may be vulnerable and under-served, and for their work in developing the Emerging Leaders Alliance.

The award for a business went to El Mundo newspaper, and its president, Gustavo Montoya, who has reached out to an important part of the community with information about social justice issues, citizenship and the need for involvement in the community.

And the award for an organization was presented to the staff at Columbia Elementary School, and principal Bill Eagle, who have advanced the needs of their diverse students by opening the school for a variety of events, including a career fair and a citizenship ceremony.

Their efforts, along with Saturday's event, would could only inspire King, who sang to a crowd in Washington, D.C. nearly 50 years ago, that "with this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope."

Source: (c)2013 The Wenatchee World (Wenatchee, Wash.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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