Monumental support

Joe Person is a retired restaurant owner. He and his wife, Pearl, a retired teacher with the Chico Unified School System, have lived in Chico for 42 years. Person has been involved in many community issues over the years.

My goodness, we’ve come a long way since that meeting at Sharon’s Cook House on Dayton Road, July 31, 2004. We were there to console Sharon and her employees about the hate crimes that had happened to her business. Everyone was upset. The group decided that naming something after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had become urgent. The feeling among us was so strong that most of the people in the Chico community were in favor of something to honor Dr. King as long as it didn’t change the name of a historical street or structure. Jackie Leser offered the suggestion of renaming Community Park in honor of King. After discussion it was proposed that we would work toward renaming the park at Whitman Avenue and 20th Street in honor of King. And that’s when the Chico Community Coalition, the glue that held this project together, was formed.

After almost two years of debate and many public meetings, we came to a compromise. There was agreement among C.A.R.D., Chico City Council and the coalition to change the name of Whitman Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr., Parkway and have a monument dedicated to King and what he stood for placed at the entrance to Community Park.

The coalition would never have reached this goal without immense community support. We thank everyone who has contributed, including All Around Sound (Steve Bertagna) and youth from Chico High and Pleasant Valley High schools for volunteering their time and energy.

We are on our way to reaching our major goal of $25,000, which the city of Chico will match. Our total amount needed is $70,000, which will enable us to erect a monument suitable to honor both King and the Butte County youth and others who use Community Park. We thank all of you wonderful people in Chico and surrounding areas, even from out of state, that donated to this worthy cause.

Another very important fund-raiser is coming up. We’ve named it Multi-Cultural Testimony to Non Violence. What could be more fitting for these times? There will be Arabic cuisine prepared by Ali Sarsour. There will also be a testimony to nonviolence by representatives from our area’s many cultures that reflects the diversity of the Chico community and encourages oneness. This fund-raiser will take place 5-8 p.m. Sunday, June 25, at Trinity Methodist Church, located at East Fifth Street and Flume Street. The suggested donation is $15 per adult, $7 for children ages 6-12. Walk-ins are welcome, but to ensure enough food will be ready, you can make reservations at (530) 893-1291 or (530) 343-1497.