MLK Jr. Day Event Features Crossroads Community Members
Derric J. Johnson has witnessed the spread of hatred and bigotry across the country. He has noticed dramatic inequalities in education, health care, housing and employment. He has observed unjust practices in our immigration and criminal justice systems. And he has seen glaring flaws in our current political climate and in our society’s treatment of marginalized groups.
At the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Westside Coalition’s annual MLK Jr. Day celebration, held Jan. 21 at the SGI-USA World Peace Ikeda Auditorium in Santa Monica, the founding director of the Crossroads School Equity & Justice Institute issued an inspiring and urgent message.
“I’m here to promote and advance what Dr. King coined as a call to conscience,” he said during his keynote speech. “We have to understand that the past usually acts as prologue for the future. It’s time to evaluate our moral report cards.”
The message of Derric’s keynote aligned with the theme of the event, “Injustice Anywhere Is a Threat to Justice Everywhere,” a popular quote from a letter King wrote in a Birmingham jail.
“We must all inherit the burden—this is too heavy a load to lift only by a select few,” Derric said. “People must choose what they feel is right or wrong and then take a stand. ... It is time to dig deeper than thought humanly possible to reshape this country.”
Derric’s speech followed an introduction by Crossroads Trustee and grandparent Nat Trives, a former Santa Monica mayor.
Members of the 21st Street Singers, an Upper School student choir, performed beautiful renditions of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and Labi Siffre’s “(Something Inside) So Strong,” accompanied on the piano by choral director Jarod Sheahan.
The Crossroads performers also took the stage to lead the audience in a singalong of “We Shall Overcome” to conclude the morning celebration, which was followed by a Community Involvement Fair featuring booths with representatives from a variety of nonprofits and community organizations.