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 its 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.