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2633 Lincoln Boulevard #204, Santa Monica, CA 90405

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History of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition 1985-2016

Nat Trives

January 16, 2006

In an effort to bring an educational aspect of the Coalition to the meetings, Nat Trives gave “Part 1” of the History of the MLK Westside Coalition.  Now in it’s 32nd year, the Coalition started it’s first celebration on the grounds of Crossroads School.  Clyde Smith, Norma Gonzales, and Nat Trives were instrumental in the beginnings of the group.  The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made a personal appearance in Santa Monica in connection with the Sanitation Workers’ Union strike in 1968.  The Coalition wanted Dr. King’s name on the main branch of the Santa Monica Public Library but had to deal with some resistance initially.  

Part 2:  Nat Trives

Continuing the history of the Coalition, Nat Trives said that, though initially the Santa Monica Public Library was resistant to naming part of the Library in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Coalition pressed forward.  In 2002, a petition was signed to have the auditorium so named.  Gordon Anderson, who was in the City Hall at the time, was the liaison to the Library.  Richard Bloom, who was also on the City Council, also supported the effort.  The Library had envisioned a plaque in the garden.  A new Library was built and in 2006 the Auditorium was named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  In honor of the naming of the Auditorium, Yolanda King, Dr. King’s eldest child, had been chosen as the speaker for the MLK Day and it was also the first year SGI-USA hosted the event.  Jim Butts, the Chief of Police at the time, picked Ms. King up from her home in Santa Monica and brought her to the auditorium without incident.  After the program, everyone marched down 6th Street to the Auditorium for the ribbon cutting and festivities, at which the Santa Monica Emeritus College Gospel Choir performed.  

Michele Wittig and Darlene Evans

January 15, 2007

The first Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration was held at 1732 20th St. in the Crossroads School parking lot.  Subsequent celebrations have been held at Virginia Avenue Park, the SMC Gymnasium, First United Methodist Church, and at our current location at SGI.  Over the years, the celebration has expanded to a weekend of events to include a Prayer Breakfast started in 2007 and performances by the Santa Monica Symphony.  The City of Santa Monica, SGI, SMC, SMC Associates, Rand, and City TV have been wonderful partners over our 32 years.  Unfortunately, we have lost some of our most stalwart members, many of whom were with us in the beginning.  Thankfully, new people have stepped in and are doing a great job.  The Involvement Fair has grown in participation to 21 tables representing non-profit organizations, and we hope it continues to do so.  

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