By Kathleen McKevitt
A new incarnation for a venerable community group held its annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast Monday, celebrating the life of the slain civil rights leader.
Hymns, dancing, breakfast served at the Pahrump Nugget, camaraderie and the recreation of King’s “I have a dream” speech combined to deliver a warm memorial to King’s struggle to bring a peaceful solution to racism and political and economic disenfranchisement of blacks in the U.S. during the 1950s and 1960s.
This marks the eleventh year the breakfast has taken place.
Until recently, the organization that put on the event, now called the Pahrump Dr. Martin Luther King Foundation, was affiliated with the Church of the Harvest. But that has changed this year.
The new board of directors, headed by Delores Joyner, voted to move their organization into a 501c-3 status and a new board of 13 was elected to help guide it through the next decade and beyond, according to Joyner.
Joyner says, “We are celebrating the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and from 2001 to 2012 we have provided over $25,000 in award books, grants, and scholarships to our youth. How proud we are of our supporters.”
In praise of those who helped support the organization in its first decade, Joyner says, “We could not have come this far, without the support of the Pahrump Nugget, Walmart, medical centers and the utility company, churches, the banks and small businesses in the community as well as family and friends.”
King’s “I have a dream” speech was given by the Rev. Richard Lewis of the Las Vegas Community Baptist Church. Perhaps the most famous line in the speech is, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
It is in this context that the organization chose this year’s scholarship recipients to reward. “We’re all about the kids,” says Joyner.
After breakfast was served to more than 240 people, the Pahrump Martin Luther King Choir sang gospel music that attendee John McCardy said “lifts the soul.”
Ivan Reed, assistant director of the choir and also a recipient of a Dedication Award, noted that their presentation was meant to help foster a sense of community in the Pahrump area.
Scholarship awards were given to five local students, including Kendra Sauer, Jillian McClain and Jessica Hooton. All were named youth community service scholarship winners. Dina Williamson-Erdag and Julie Hargis were given recognition for their fundraising and community building efforts.
New foundation board members include: Delores Joyner, Legion Shane King, Ruby Hughes, Linda McLaughlin, Annie Turner, Vonda Simmons, Linda DeMeo, Maryann Murphy, Julie Platson, Reva Braun, Andre Longmier and Rodney Comacho, who was also Master of Ceremonies at the breakfast.
The new board of directors is already looking ahead to the work they will be able to accomplish in and for Pahrump.
Joyner says of the new board, “They are forward thinkers and dreamers and hope to instill that in students and local people who long to build a community of service.”