The 27th Annual MLK Walk-A-Thon, “Celebrating the Pursuit of Unity,” will take place on Monday, January 20, 2020, with a clear focus on “inclusivity” which is underscored by the City of Riverside's three remaining pillars: diversity, pride, and community. According to co-chair, Robert Earl Bogan Sr., the MLK Walk-A-Thon's 2020 committee plans to expand its scope with the destination of the walk-a-thon being a Riverside premier event.
Bogan explains the reason for the expanded vision, “For a number of years the perception in the community has been that the Walk-A-Thon was an African American event. Everyone has benefited from Dr. King's work, regardless of what race you are and what gender you are; everyone has benefited from it. So, [our] goal is to have the Walk-A-Thon as a community event. In fact, [our] goal is to let this become one of the premier events in the city.”
As a representative of the Board of Directors for the Riverside African American Historical Society and the co-chair of the 27th Annual MLK Walk-A-Thon, Bogan has made it his personal mission to build relationships that help expand the outreach of the Walk-A-Thon. “I intentionally create relationships. When I go to the City council, I extend the invitation to invite me to various groups to speak and extend a personal invitation to the MLK Walk-A-Thon.”
With the committee's outreach for expansion in place, this year's Walk-A-Thon has the signs of premier and inclusiveness all over it beginning with its honorees: Gaby Plascencia, Deborah Wong, Virginia Blumenthal, and Adrian Dell Roberts. According to Bogen, “The honorees are selected or nominated by their contribution to the community, what you are doing that represents the legacy of Dr. King regardless of what ethnicity you are.”
For example, Plascencia's work within the Latino community and now as a Riverside Council member gained her recognition by the MLK Walk-A-Thon committee. Her commitment to the Latino community and the youth in education for more than 20 years is an extension of the work Dr. King did with all people.
Wong, a professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Riverside, stood out as she continues to educate the youth and inspire them to become leaders in their community. Wong's desire to develop young college students is reminiscent of Dr. King's work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Blumenthal came highly recommended and was recognized for faithfully serving in Riverside as a criminal attorney for more than 40 years. She founded many programs and served on several boards. Blumenthal has been recognized nationally for her community involvement and the differences she has made for women and people of all ages.
Roberts, a community favorite, is a well-respected Riverside community member who is known as a pillar in the community. He retired from the Riverside Unified School District after 38 years of service and is known for being a mentor to 100s of students. Roberts is representative of the many great men that were inspired by Dr. King and who vowed to continue the work he led around equity and access.
In this prestigious diverse group of honorees, the legacy of Dr. King is preserved. Through the expansion of the program, Bogan and his committee plan to ensure that all are included. This year's agenda includes an opportunity to celebrate the people of Riverside by “showcasing local talent, food and craft vendors as a part of the finale.”
The 27th Annual MLK Walk-A-Thon will begin with registration at 7:30 a.m. at Stratton Center. During registration, the Riverside Drum Corps will perform until the Walk-A-Thon begins promptly at 10 a.m. Participants will walk to the statue of Dr. King, which proudly stands on Main St. where, according to Bogan, “the honorees can speak, or participants can have a moment of reflection.”
After a brief program, participants will walk to Riverside Community College Digital Library, where the program will culminate.
Proceeds from the Walk-A-Thon will benefit the Riverside African American Historical Society to support: The development of the Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California, a marquee component of a 92,000 square foot project providing 72 units of urban workforce housing and a new home for the offices of the Fair Housing Council of Riverside County; Clarke & Grier College Scholarships; and for the maintenance and upkeep of the Martin Luther King Jr. statue.
According to Bogen, you can expect to be a part of this historical event where its overall purpose is “to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.”Interested participants can visit raahsinc.org to sign up. Expect a day of fun and purpose and be a part of continuing the legacy of Dr. King.