LOS ANGELES, Calif. (FOX 11 / CNS) - Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis encouraged Los Angeles County residents to spend Martin Luther King Jr. Day today participating in a commemorative event honoring King's life and "to go out and make a difference by volunteering in a community event that helps others."
Solis is scheduled to attend a commemorative event at the African American Museum of Beginnings in Pomona. "Martin Luther King Jr. Day means a great deal to me because it is a day that honors a true American hero," Solis told City News Service. "Dr. King was very close to another of my heroes, Cesar Chavez, a man
who inspired many Latinos because of his dedication to help the poor. Both Cesar Chavez and Dr. King were committed to nonviolent tactics and as a result, both changed the course of this nation's history for the better.
The lives of both men pushed the United States to become a stronger, more democratic nation. "But Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream comes under attack every day so we need to keep marching. We need to keep working and keep believing. That is the only way we can ensure that Dr. King's dream never dies."
Solis said one of her favorite moments as the secretary of labor was the 2011 induction of the workers of the Memphis sanitation strike into the U.S. Labor Hall of Honor. King went to Memphis to support the strikers and was assassinated there.
"In the late `60s, African-Americans were shut out of jobs that paid an honest wage in Memphis," Solis said. "For many black men, sanitation work was the only job they could get. They did the work, and they did it proudly. "But the city paid the sanitation workers so little that they still qualified for welfare benefits. The working conditions were unsafe. If you were injured on the job and couldn't work, you were fired.
"When the sanitation workers tried to organize to improve their working conditions, they were ignored. When they kept trying, they were eventually fired. So they went on strike in protest. They took a stand for human dignity
with four simple words, `I am a man.'
"Dr. King lost his life standing up for the Memphis sanitation workers. But they continued their peaceful protest and they finally won their union. Through everything, they stayed true to their nonviolent philosophy. The
sanitation workers set an example for all of us that day. Yet, they were inspired by the life of Dr. King."
Los Angeles Councilman Curren D. Price Jr., the grand marshal of today's 31st annual Kingdom Day Parade, encouraged the public to "engage in service,find local projects they can get involved with that strengthen their
Price called Martin Luther King Jr. Day "an opportunity to reflect on the contributions of one of the greatest American heroes of all time."
"He was a beacon of hope for humanity, a world leader who defined love and peace during tumultuous times," Price said. "His message of healing still resonates because while progress has been made, social inequality exists. It is up to each and every single one of us to keep his dream alive by taking action."
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is also "an opportunity to reflect back and be thankful for the progress made, but we must keep in mind that the fight continues and we must work together to solve social problems," Price said.
Assembly Speaker-elect Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, encouraged the public "to take time to contemplate Dr. King's words and actions and what each of us can do on a daily basis to fulfill his life's work to guarantee justice