Martin Luther King Jr. Day may be a day away from the office for a lot of folks, but it was hard work for nearly 500 who turned out for the interfaith service at Balboa Park. People of all faiths spent the day pulling weeds and planting trees.
They did not look, dress or worship the same, and it did not matter. It had not always been that way, and 90-year-old Bishop Annie B. Campbell-Pitre of Giving & Living for Other Ministry remembers the harder times.
“We never had new books to read in school. We always had used….” She struggled to finish the sentence because her heart still stings at the thought.
Campbell-Pitre has seen a lot of changes, and she says King showed her, and others, how to love.
“It was just like I saw love come in and take control, just changed the people,” she said.
Campbell-Pitre was one of a couple hundred at the United African American Ministerial Action Council’s annual MLK Jr. community breakfast. She seemed thrilled to listen to Pastor Miles McPherson speak.
“It brings back memories, but happiness now, because I thank God that we’re not where we used to be,” she said.
While many never met the civil rights leader, Campbell said she still remembers waking up at 3 a.m. to get a spot front and center for his speech in Memphis, Tennessee.
“It was the most beautiful message I’ve ever listened to ,” she explained. “It was like he felt like this was it.”
That was it. He was assassinated shortly after.
A lot has changed since then. Campbell went on to sell encyclopedias to make enough money to buy books for kids. And now she goes to the book store at least once a month to buy them, and she gives the books to any kids who want to read.