For nearly three decades, the Martin Luther King Community Coalition (King Coalition) has paved the way for people living in the Pasadena, Altadena, and surrounding communities to keep Dr. King’s legacy alive through community and bridge building.
In 1975, before the King Coalition was officially organized, a core group of 10 individuals were intricately involved in the work leading to making Dr. King’s birthday a national holiday.
Over the past 26 years, the King Coalition has sponsored the Martin Luther King Essay Contest encouraging students in the Pasadena Unified School District and local private schools to write essays addressing different aspects of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.
In August 1985, a community meeting was convened at Scott United Methodist Church in Pasadena, California bringing together peace-, understanding-, and freedom-loving people to address some of the spiritual, educational, economic, employment, health, and welfare problems facing the community.
Beginning in 2003, the coalition introduced the art contest to include the growing pool of talented student visual artists. Notably, the combined entries from both the essay and art contests have numbered well into the thousands. To date,
- 20,000 students have entered the essay contest
- 2,585 young artists have submitted entries for the art contest
- All students who enter the contests receive certificates for their participation
Also, thousands of dollars have been awarded to students from elementary, middle school, and high schools during this period of time. All monetary awards come from donations from individuals and local organizations.
The mission of the Martin Luther King Community Coalition is to keep Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy alive through education and volunteerism.
Our Annual Events
The opening event leading to the Martin Luther King holiday was formerly organized solely by the King Coalition. The free event features guest speakers, music and poetry readings and is a prelude to the subsequent celebrations that occur on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Now the City of Pasadena organizes the annual event with support by The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Coalition, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, Ecumenical Council of Pasadena Area Churches, YWCA Pasadena Foothill Valley, the Pasadena Unified School District, Altadena NAACP and the Pasadena NAACP, Aspires West Pasadena, the Pasadena Journal and the Pasadena Weekly.
The program is usually held on the second Saturday of January from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. inside the City Council Chambers of Pasadena City Hall.
In January of 2004, Mayor Bill Bogaard gave an inspirational speech preparing the community for the upcoming year. The PDF document of the speech can be downloaded here: Rekindling the Light of Peace from Mayor Bogaard 0r viewed here.
The Martin Luther King Community Coalition began its relationship with the Pasadena Human Relations Commission in 2001.
In December or early January, the art from finalists in the essay and art contests display their art and read their essays publicly. While the audience makes their own predictions, the judges have another opportunity to hear the essays read by the contestants.
The following month, the placing of the essay finalists as well as the art finalists are revealed at the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration.
A Day On – Not Off: The MLK Day of Service
After a long struggle, legislation was signed in 1983 creating a federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this effort. Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.” The MLK Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the President’s national call to service initiative. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. The mlkday.gov site is specifically dedicated to the MLK Day of Service.
The MLK Day of Service transforms Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and teachings into community action that helps to address social problems. That service may meet a tangible need, or it may meet a need of the spirit. On this day, Americans of every age and background celebrate Dr. King through service projects that strengthen communities, empower individuals, bridge barriers, and create solutions.
In 2001, the Martin Luther King Community Coalition joined in the “Day On, Not a Day Off” national initiative spearheaded by the Atlanta Martin Luther King Center for Social Change. On the Saturday before the national holiday celebrating Dr. King’s birthday, MLK Community Coalition members coordinate local volunteers to partner with the Pasadena Unified School District to sponsor a beautification project at designated campuses. It is a wonderful event that brings out students and their families and community members, and creates long-lasting bonds.
View some of our activities on the web at Flickr.com
The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Greater Pasadena presents an annual service that brings people together from all walks of life to honor the legacy of Dr. King. The service takes place at Metropolitan Baptist Church in Altadena, California and is filled with proclamations, tributes, inspirational words, singing, and liturgical dancing.
The public also has an opportunity to give towards the Ministerial Alliance’s “Martin Luther King Scholarship Fund” through a free-will offering. Each year, up to ten local high school graduates receive help to start their college careers with grants from this fund. Students who have received help from the program will often be included in the program to share their progress in college.
The Ministerial Alliance, a fellowship of more than thirty local pastors and ministers who are spiritual leaders in the community, has been sponsoring these annual local celebrations since the first year after Dr. King’s death in 1968.
On the third Monday of January, as the nation celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.ʼs birthday, the Martin Luther King Community Coalition does as well. The Martin Luther King Community Coalition, Pasadena Unified School District, Ecumenical Council of Pasadena Area Congregations, National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa Inc., Gamma Lambda Chapter, Pasadena Tournament of Roses and Aspires West in conjunction with the City of Pasadena hosts an annual “Martin Luther King Day Celebration” at Jackie Robinson Park in Pasadena, California.
The event begins with a continental breakfast supplied by the Scott United Methodist Men and a teach-in forum and dialogue session for members of the community conducted by PUSD. For the second part of the celebration, student winners in the art and essay contests are announced and presented with awards, proclamations, trophies, and cash prizes. City council representatives, PUSD officials, and community leaders and volunteers are in attendance to congratulate the students. The celebration includes dance and musical presentations from a variety of local student groups and organizations. An arts, crafts, and activities booth is available for kids of all ages.
The celebration is presented in conjunction with the Pasadena Unified School District, Pasadena Tournament of Roses, Aspires West Pasadena, Friends Indeed, Scott United Methodist Church, Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority-Pasadena Chapter, and the City of Pasadena.
*A program and/or event denoted with an asterisk is supported by or organized in collaboration with the Martin Luther King Coalition.