SAN DIEGO - Numerous events to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day were held around San Diego Monday, led off at 7 a.m. by the 18th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast.
Joanne Bland, founder of the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma, Ala., spoke at the event, discussing "Bloody Sunday," the day in 1965 when state troopers and local law enforcement in Selma assaulted more than 500 civil rights demonstrators, injuring more than 50 of them.
Bland met King when she was 8 years old. She said he opened her eyes to a world she was sheltered against. At a young age, she realized just how different she was because of the color of her skin.
"I saw a pair of shoes that was on the floor and I put my foot in it," Bland said. "And the lady made my grandmother buy it… because I had put my foot in it and nobody else would buy it."
Now, decades after King's death, it is a society where people of different races and genders can now sit side by side together at a breakfast table. However, Bland said there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
"The fight goes across the rainbow now… until we realize people are just people and together, we need to get rid of the craziness, period," she said. "We're going to always struggle."
In Oceanside, the North San Diego chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hosted its annual prayer breakfast and birthday celebration for the slain civil rights leader at the Junior Seau Beach Community Center under the Oceanside Pier.
Recently installed San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, who took part in the Freedom Rides in the early days of the civil rights movement, spoke at the 25th annual All People's Celebration at the San Diego Public Market. Beginning in 1961, "freedom riders" rode buses into the South to challenge segregation
laws, and they were frequently met with violence by white supremacists.
Also Monday, nearly 100 employees of Kaiser Permanente cleaned, sorted, bagged and boxed food items at the San Diego Food Bank for distribution to the needy, while several dozen union members cleaned litter from Parkside Park and the surrounding neighborhood in Paradise Hills.
Radio station Star 94.1 hosted a blood drive for the San Diego Blood Bank at the San Diego Hall of Champions in Balboa Park.
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