Time to honor King

Emily Alma is Executive Director of the Community Collaborative for Youth

On this 40th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights, which ended in the terrible violence known as “Bloody Sunday,” I write to support the name expansion of Community Park (known as 20th Street Park) to Dr. Martin Luther King Community Park.

This is the right place and now is the right time for this action for the following reasons:

1) 20th Street Community Park exemplifies Dr. King’s vision in action—it is a place where hundreds of people—families and children—of all ethnicities come together to play. On any given weekend the place is vibrant with that joyous play.

2) The park is located at the edge of Chapmantown, Chico’s most diverse neighborhood.

3) The only reason of substance given by the CARD board for their refusal to support the plan when it was first proposed was a tradition of honoring local people. The present name does not do that, plus the Hooker Oak tree and Hooker Oak Recreation Area are named after Sir Joseph Hooker, an Englishman.

4) Except for CARD board member Jan Sneed, there was no discussion by the CARD board members who voted against it—no reasons given for their “no” votes to the long line of community members saying “yes.”

6) There has been a great outpouring of emotion and reason from members of a broad diversity of our community, including many longtime residents and community leaders, that this is the right time and the right place—and that to postpone this decision and to promise some other place at some other time in the future is an affront to the many people who are saying “this is the right location and the right time"—especially when there has been no persuasive reason given to turn it down.

7) Dr. Martin Luther King represents peace and justice, dignity and respect for all people. This is a wonderful opportunity to pass on Dr. King’s legacy to the many children of our community who already play there, for whom his memory is becoming distant history.

8) The monument to be constructed can become the center of educational programs focused on Dr. King’s teachings and his commitment to justice and freedom for all—a terrific place for school field trips to combine education and play.

This letter is written on behalf of the Board of Directors of Community Collaborative for Youth, which has voted to endorse the expansion of the park’s name to Dr. Martin Luther King Community Park.