Board proclaims Jan. 19-21 Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend of Service, encourages residents to volunteer

Thursday, 1/3/13 - 2:49 pm

On Thursday, Jan. 3, the Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to proclaim Jan. 19 -21 as the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend of Service.

The dedication marks the 26th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 21. There will be a celebration honoring Dr. King on Jan. 16 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Multnomah Building board room located at 501 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd. in Portland.

At Thursday’s meeting, Daryl Dixon, chief diversity and equity officer, and Paul Lewis and Mohammed Bader, co-chairs of the Multnomah County Managers of Color employee resource group asked the board to formally encourage county residents and staff to honor King by volunteering that weekend.

“Last year, 2,257 Multnomah County persons volunteered in service projects through Hands On Greater Portland,” Dixon said. “That’s good, but I believe we can do better. We can do great.”

Bader said as an immigrant from a war-torn country, he found King to be a great inspiration. King’s service and work for justice inspired Bader to write the poem “A Dream,’’ which he recited for the board.

A Dream

I trudged amidst the desert’s heat.
Vultures crowded the sky.
The heated wind slapped my face.
Then, I couldn’t stand
The heat, the vultures, and the arid land.
Far away I saw an oasis.
I crawled over the sand to lean against a palm tree.
In moments I slumbered
And began to dream.
I dreamt that:

All nations knelt to the Creator,
All nations recited a peace song together,
All nations blended,
And colors, ranks, and social statuses ended.
False pride disappeared,
And white pigeons formed a white flag for peace.
The flag held the burdens of all the nations;
And a phrase beneath it said,
“Freedom for all and justice forever.”

I woke up and had to move on.
In the mirage, I saw another oasis
And another dream.
Amidst all:
And wind.
I moved on with a desire and a dream,
Carrying an oasis... in my so-called savage heart.
Still I carry a dream.

The commissioners were moved by Bader’s performance and praised him for his courage.

County Chair Jeff Cogen said he appreciates how Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is different from other holidays.

“One of the things about the holiday that I really like is that, unlike so many other holidays, the tradition that has emerged is that it’s not just taking a day off,” Cogen said. “It’s a day of giving service to our community.” Cogen said his staff will be participating through Hands on Greater Portland and urged others to look for opportunities to serve.

Commissioner Judy Shiprack said that the holiday helps shed light on what happens in our community—good and bad.

“We have the ability to stand for a new kind of normal,” Shiprack said. “I think that it’s time that we resolve ourselves as individuals, as well as the community, to acknowledge that there are some things that are not okay with us and to dedicate a new effort.”

Commissioner Loretta Smith said she would be volunteering all the way from Washington D.C. where she plans to attend the re-inauguration of President Barack Obama.