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Kitsap urged to 'experience the dream'

"If cities such as Bremerton, Spokane and Bellevue truly want to embrace the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of inclusion, they should rename one of their streets for the great freedom fighter.That's the challenge Rev. Lonnie C. Mitchell Sr., pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Spokane, issued at Monday's seventh annual celebration of King's birthday at the Kitsap Pavilion.The event was sponsored by the Kitsap County Commissioners, the city of Bremerton and Bremerton's Ebenezer AME Church.The theme of the observance was Keepers of the Dream, and Mitchell spoke about experiencing the dream.I realize you have been focusing on keeping the dream ... but you must allow the dream to materialize, so you must experience the dream, he said.Mitchell pulled quotes from many of Dr. King's most famous speeches and writings, such as the Letter from Birmingham Jail.He also railed at California and Washington for passing anti-affirmative action initiatives.It's time America woke up and embraced diversity as a strength in its economy and structure, he said.This is a multi-racial nation where all groups are dependent on each other, Mitchell said.Monday's celebration was also diverse.The MLK Community Choir included members young and old, black and white, from throughout Kitsap County and even Tacoma. The choir's director and soloist, Robin Henderson, is director of music for St. John Baptist Church in Tacoma.The choir performed several songs, including one in which the youngest members performed in sign language while the audience joined the choir in clapping in time to the rousing music.The Peninsula Japanese Women's Club also participated. One member, dressed in a white obi with blue, green and gold designs, performed the man's dance, which is done at auspicious occasions.Four more members performed a dance of good luck for the village, using beautiful golden fans.The vocal jazz ensemble from Klahowya Secondary School sang the national anthem.It was also a time to recognize contributions of community members to the ideals King stood for, in presenting the annual Keepers of the Dream Awards.Winners were former Bremerton Council Member Al Colvin, former Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido, Linda K. Joyce, executive director of the Bremerton YWCA, and James T. Walker, posthumously. Lillian Walker accepted the award for her late husband.Walker said her personal message on behalf of her husband was, If you see a problem and don't try to help solve it, you're part of the problem.Colvin, who served with the renowned Tuskegee Airmen in World War II said he was surprised at the award, I'm at a loss for words.The community-wide celebration also included greetings from County Commissioner Chris Endresen, Bremerton Mayor Lynn Horton, Shannon Thompson of the Central Kitsap School District, James Thomas of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Rev. Jeff Bemis, president of the Bremerton Ministerial Association, and Rev. Sam Rachal, president of the Bremerton African American Ministers Association. Also attending the celebration were Commissioner Tim Botkin, County Prosecutor Russ Hauge, Judges Leila Mills and Karlynn Haberly, Dale Rudolph, the first African American to become a member of the Poulsbo City Council, and Bainbridge Mayor Dwight Sutton.Rev. Shirley D. Heermance, pastor of Ebenezer AME Church, was mistress of ceremonies.Several school districts and schools were represented by artwork and essays about Dr. King, his life and his work.I challenge the audience - make the dream your dream, to make a better community, said Rachal. "

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