Charles McLaurin, far right, speaks about his experience working to get voters registered in the south during the civil rights movement at Solano Community College Sunday as part of the 13th Annual Living the Dream Multicultural Celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Daily Republic/Adam Smith)

Solano County

Community celebrates legacy of MLK

By From page A1 | January 20, 2014

ROCKVILLE — “I have a dream . . .”

A pair of Fairfield children – holding up each other’s hand – brought the audience at Solano Community College to its feet, Sunday, after concluding the famous speech of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Free at last, free at last, thank God, almighty, we’re free at last,” the orators said in unison.

The tribute by 8-year-old Avian Rojas and 12-year-old Haje Harris, of One World Agenda, was a part of the college’s 13th annual celebration of the civil rights leader. The three-hour event brought local luminaries, community members and public officials to the theater to commemorate King’s birthday.

“I know that there is a football game on, but sometimes we have to make sacrifices,” said master of ceremonies Thomas Trujillo.

Civil rights veterans Sherri Labedis and Charles McLaurin attended the celebration and answered questions about their separate experiences registering black people to vote.

Interviewers Marcus Fleming, from K.I. Jones Elementary, and Mehki Little, from Dover Bridge to Success School, probed each individual about their experiences in the South during the 1960s.

Asked by one of the 12-year-olds whether he felt fear while trying to get blacks to vote, McLaurin recalled driving three women in 1963 from Ruleville, Miss., to the Sunflower County Courthouse and hesitating to walk inside the building.

“These three old ladies got right out, walked up to the courthouse – and I followed them,” McLaurin said to laughter.

McLaurin, who met King in 1962, said he was arrested more than 30 times for fighting segregation and bigotry.

“I got put in jail for just walking down the street, and they wanted to shoot me,” he said.

Labedis, a Roseville resident and substitute teacher, left California when she was 18 to help register blacks to vote in 1965. After arriving in South Carolina, a young man asked her, “You came here to die, didn’t you,” which later became the title of her book.

Signing copies after the ceremony, Labedis said people still need to keep fighting for civil rights.

“It’s an ongoing battle that needs to be refought over and over again, because I feel we’re going backward,” she said.

During the celebration, the college also presented lifetime achievement awards to trustee Sarah Chapman, entrepreneur C.C. Yin and retired college vice president Jim Bracy with Assemblyman Jim Frazier as well as Ron Turner – who was representing assembly members Susan Bonilla and Mariko Yamada – also delivering honors.

Local philanthropist Yin owns 31 McDonald’s franchises from San Francisco to Sacramento and was a California State University trustee, said Solano College President Jowel Laguerre. Presenting the plaque, he said Yin has made a dramatic impact in the community.

“He is an Asian American, but you wouldn’t know because he relates to everyone as an equal,” Laguerre said.

Yin described his experience emigrating from China in 1963 and his dream being simply to survive.

“This is very meaningful especially . . . the year Dr. King gave (his) famous speech was (the) year I came to the (United States),” he said.

He said while working as a dishwasher and eventually working toward business ownership he learned of American segregation but personally realized that everybody is the same, regardless of color.

“The dream is not just for African-Americans and Asians, it’s a dream for all Americans,” he said.

Reach Adrienne Harris at 427-6956 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aharrisdr.

Adrienne Harris

Adrienne Harris

Adrienne joined the Daily Republic in September 2009. She earned her journalism degree at the University of Florida in 2005 and has worked at newspapers in Fort Pierce, Fla.; Las Cruces, N.M.; and El Paso, Texas.

Discussion | 20 comments

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  • my2centsJanuary 20, 2014 - 5:26 am

    Mr. Yin is so right. Any fight for civil rights is a fight for us all. The very essence of the struggle is to ensure that ALL citizens of this great country shall enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. White or black, rich or poor. The Yin family, over the yeas, has given generously to our community and this gives me an opportunity to say thank you.

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  • The MisterJanuary 20, 2014 - 7:18 am

    I just read a headline story that Obama personally says that his approval rating is down because white people are racists. Either Obama is in denial about the mess that he has created or he is a racist himself or he is pitting one race against another for political purposes. I can't believe that Martin Luther King Jr would have said any of those reflect well upon the content of Obama's character.

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  • Mike KirchubelJanuary 20, 2014 - 3:09 pm

    Mister, Mister, Mister, tsk, tsk, tsk. Always check your sources; your "hot tips" just might have come from a conservative web site. What he actually said was: “There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president.” Is that true, or untrue? Would you agree with him or not?

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  • The MisterJanuary 20, 2014 - 3:42 pm

    Mike... the number of people who disapprove of Obama's performance based upon his skin color would not make much of a difference in his current disapproval numbers. It might be more fair to say that a substantial number of people who approve of Obama's performance poll that way precisely because of his skin color. If those two groups cancel each other out, then Obama's disapproval rating is based upon his performance... not his skin color. Nice try, Mike!

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  • Mike KirchubelJanuary 20, 2014 - 4:21 pm

    Interesting reasoning. I'm sure that the number of those giving Obama a free pass would not even come close to equaling those who don't like him because he's black. Besides, Progressives seem to be more reality based than the right wingers. And, as people on this site delight in pointing out, there are a heck of a lot more Fox fiends than M SNBC viewers. Think of the vast red swath of middle America who are not exposed to clear thinking politics.

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  • Mr. PracticalJanuary 20, 2014 - 6:47 pm

    Mike, I would agree with you on this one except that his comment was in regards to sagging poll number during his presidency. The statement actually makes no sense. The number of people that actually despise the idea of a black president, I believe, is trivial. I would guess it's much less than those that have given him a free pass because of race.

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  • SavetheRepublicJanuary 20, 2014 - 6:53 pm

    Even back when we were Brainwashed Republican NeoCons, we liked and knew a lot of white people that really liked Alan Keyes ( a black guy ) did not care what color he was as long as we thought he was going to do the right thing.....I would have to check him out again, but still think he would fall into the Neocon camp.

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  • Mike KirchubelJanuary 20, 2014 - 7:22 pm

    I guess we'll just have to live with our innate prejudices. Although mine are based on facts. Smiley face.

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  • Mike KirchubelJanuary 20, 2014 - 7:30 pm

    51% isn't trivial.

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  • Mr. PracticalJanuary 20, 2014 - 7:35 pm

    You can't honestly believe that 51 percent have a problem with a black president?

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  • Mike KirchubelJanuary 20, 2014 - 8:20 pm

    Mr. P, no, i don't. But there is a survey that says that dated 2012. Just goes to show you, you can't believe everyrhing you read. Except in my column, of course.

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  • rlw895January 21, 2014 - 8:06 am

    Good catch, Mike. You saved me the trouble of looking up what TM was talking about. TM: Just remember: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't (true)." Do you even check this stuff out? And you don't answer Mike's simple question, directly. Do you think what Obama ACTUALLY said is false? More on the true nature of racism, what it means and how it affects opinions and behavior, later.

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  • rlw895January 21, 2014 - 8:24 am

    Racism comes in many forms a degrees, but I'm going to speculated that just about every American is racist. It has to do with our history, lore, and stories we see or hear everyday in the media. The trouble is if you don't recognize the qualifier in my first sentence, you are going to fill in your own definition of "racist." We need more words. I call the strongest and worst form of racism "virulent racism." THOSE people might "despise Obama because he's black" (or at least black enough). But that's a far cry from people who "have trouble" with him because he's black. I'm not even sure what that means, but it could mean as little as too willing to believe the worst of him. Such people have a racism problem, but it may not go as far as virulent racism (I agree with TM that it probably doesn't). I'm not sure what to call that degree, but TM, you demonstrate time and again you are in that category as do several other regulars here. Then there is the healthy form of racism that is based on rationality. There are simply statistical truths that anyone with knowledge of them use in their daily lives for their efficiency, health, and safety. Such people will use race--along with many other factors, such as age, sex, and dress--to form opinions about people, barring further information. That's fine, even healthy. It's when those opinions refuse to change given further information to the contrary that I would say there is a racism "problem." For that reason, I don't have a problem with "racial profiling." We all do it, we all SHOULD do it, and none of us should overreact when it's used on us. So I have at least four levels of racism and racists. I try to stay on Level 1, and I won't criticize anyone who does the same.

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  • Mr. PracticalJanuary 21, 2014 - 5:33 pm

    rlw, you're making this a lot more complicated than it really is. You should work for the government! What is false about what Obama said is implying that his being black has something to do with his sagging popularity in the polls. Part of it may very well be that some of those that were giving him a pass early in his presidency because he is black, no longer are.

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  • rlw895January 21, 2014 - 7:51 pm

    Mr.P: "Making it more complicated than it has to be" means it doesn't support your thesis, right? It would be interesting to have some research done on people who've gone from positive to negative on Obama and find out why. There's a good argument that he has been disappointingly conservative.

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  • Mr. PracticalJanuary 21, 2014 - 7:59 pm

    rlw, actually your opinions had nothing to do with my previous comments. If the sagging poll numbers were from being too conservative, which I don't believe is the case, it would support my contention.

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  • Rich GiddensJanuary 20, 2014 - 9:36 am

    Rudyard Kipling said it best.... It was not part of their blood, It came to them very late, With long arrears to make good, When the Saxon began to hate. They were not easily moved, They were icy -- willing to wait Till every count should be proved, Ere the Saxon began to hate. Their voices were even and low. Their eyes were level and straight. There was neither sign nor show When the Saxon began to hate. It was not preached to the crowd. It was not taught by the state. No man spoke it aloud When the Saxon began to hate. It was not suddently bred. It will not swiftly abate. Through the chilled years ahead, When Time shall count from the date That the Saxon began to hate.

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  • Rich GiddensJanuary 20, 2014 - 9:44 pm

    Martin Luther King was seriously and morally flawed. The night before he died he was shacked up with his mistress. One day, the FBI phone tap and bug recordings will be declassified and historians will have to work overtime to correct their wikipedia and textbook entries.

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  • Mr. SmithJanuary 21, 2014 - 8:40 pm

    America, we have an egotistical, delusional president. He has convinced himself that he is disliked by many Americans because he is black. In a lengthy interview with New Yorker magazine editor David Remnick the president tells him, "There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president. Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black president." President Obama’s approval rating has fallen badly in the national polls. His ratings are historically low. The second lowest in modern history at this point of a presidency. Lower than Bush. Lower than everyone but Richard Nixon. I don’t dislike Obama. I dislike his beliefs and his policies. Here come the excuses. Obama desperately wants to believe it’s all because he’s black. Because if he didn’t have that excuse, it would have to be based on his performance. When Obama blames "some folks" for not liking him because he's black, he refers to conservatives and white Americans. I’m an unapologetic member of both groups. It’s an interesting excuse. If we disliked him for the color of his skin, that would excuse his failed performance as president. How convenient. That would excuse everything he’s done to damage or destroy American exceptionalism, capitalism, and the U.S. economy. If this was about race, it would excuse his dismantling of the economy. It would excuse the 92 million working-age Americans not in the workforce. It would excuse all-time record lows for workforce participation. It would excuse tens of thousands, and in some cases, hundreds of thousands of Americans dropping out of the workforce every month. It would excuse the fact that only crummy, crappy, low-wage part-time jobs are being created because of Obama’s policies. If this was about race, it would excuse Obama taking the formerly greatest health care system in the world and plunging it into crisis and confusion. It would distract us from seeing his failed ObamaCare web site that cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Or his blatant lies about keeping our health insurance if we like it. Or his lies about the middle class not being taxed to pay for 30 million new patients. Or his lies about the quality of care remaining the same, even though we’ve added 30 million new patients, with no new doctors. Or his lies about prices going down, while our rates are going through the roof, and his own IRS predicts health insurance will cost the average family a staggering $20,000 per year by 2016. If this was about race, it would excuse his lies about wanting to create jobs for middle class Americans while he’s made conscious decisions to hire foreign companies (who rely on cheap foreign labor) to build and fix the defective ObamaCare website. If this was about race, it would excuse his never ending spending and debt. Or the damage he’s done to middle class Americans -- the doubling of gas prices, the all-time record highs for electricity, the jobs he’s destroyed by not approving oil drilling, or fracking, or the Keystone Pipeline. Or using the EPA to try to put coal industry completely out of business. It would excuse his using the power of the IRS to persecute Tea Party groups and conservative critics (like me), while allowing the IRS to hand out fraudulent tax refunds to illegal immigrants claiming fake dependents not even living in the United States. It would excuse four dead American heroes in Benghazi, a refusal to send help while they were fighting for their lives, and a blatant cover-up before the election. But putting all that aside, let me point out a few inconsistencies in Obama’s allegation against conservatives: First, I don’t dislike Obama. I dislike his beliefs and his policies. Second, last I checked Obama is not just “black.” He’s half white, born by a white mother, raised by white grandparents. Third, I’ve been consistent my entire life. I’ve been a true blue conservative patriot since age 3, when I handed out campaign literature for Barry Goldwater, in my father’s arms. I judge people by their political beliefs and policies, not the color of their skin. At the age of 11, I despised the policies of ultra-leftist Presidential candidate George McGovern. His beliefs and policies were almost identical to Obama’s today. Did I hate white Midwestern men? In 1980, as a student at Columbia University, I despised the policies of President Jimmy Carter, whose policies were almost identical to Obama’s today. Did I hate white Southern men? Today, I despise the policies of ultra-leftist politicians like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Do I therefore hate white Mormons and Italians? Lastly, I can think of many Jewish Democrats whose policies I despise. The first one that comes to mind is Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose statements often make me physically ill. Does that mean I hate Jews? That’s pretty funny, because I’m Jewish. In each case a Republican conservative like me despises the political beliefs and policies of people I believe now, or believed back then, to be extreme, radical, socialist, economically ignorant, and damaging to America and capitalism. No, Mr. Obama, we don’t dislike you because you’re black. But we do despise your policies, your lies, and your destruction of the greatest country, economy and middle class in world history. Wayne Allyn Root is capitalist evangelist, entrepreneur, and Libertarian-conservative Republican. He is a former Libertarian vice presidential nominee. Wayne's latest book is "The Ultimate Obama Survival Guide: Secrets to Protecting Your Family, Your Finances, and Your Freedom." For more, visit his website: www.ROOTforAmerica.com. Follow him on Twitter@WayneRoot.

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  • Mike KirchubelJanuary 22, 2014 - 1:18 pm

    Thank you for putting every pre-fab, false Foxism into one post. This will help a lot.

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