MLK Day speakers call for immigration rights

About 250 people filled Riverside Community Church sanctuary on Monday for the Martin Luther King Day service organized by Gorge Ecumenical Ministries, titled “MLK’s Dream Lives On: Building a Community of Justice for All.”

Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday honoring Rev. King, the 1950s and 1960s civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1968.

Congregants heard recordings of King’s voice including portions of his landmark “I Have A Dream” speech from 1963 in Washington, D.C.

The service invoked King’s life and work as basis for support of immigrant rights.

Officiant Rev. John Boonstra said it was organized by “dreamers who are committed to racial equality, immigration rights, and justice for all.

“We come together tonight as dreamers; dreamers of freedom in word of oppression; dreamers of love in a world of fear; dreamers of peace in a world of war; dreamers of non-violence in a world of hate; and dreamers of a healthy planet in a world of environmental neglect.”

The centerpiece of the event was an impassioned talk by Graciela Gomez, who said, “Dreams do not have nationality; they do not have color.”

Gomez, an immigrant from Mexico, told of her painful journey from Mexico to pursue her dream of establishing a good life in the United States, “a land of opportunity for my family.”

“The Creator is not from one country, or of one color of skin. The Creator loves you and me, for who you are. Let us unite in justice, freedom and equality because dignity goes with you wherever you are.

“There are so many people who are undocumented in this country, working hard for our families,” Gomez said. “I hope that we will all contribute to this dream, this dream of justice and freedom, not just for us but for all the children. You and I can make the difference supporting fair laws, laws that build and don’t destroy.”

Boonstra said, “Rev. King preached that when we become silent about our dreams we die inside. Dreamers take the first step even when they don’t see the whole staircase. Dreams of justice for all can be dangerous, and they come with harsh consequences.

“While Martin Luther King led a movement of civil rights for all African American brothers and sisters, tonight his movement inspires a movement of immigrant rights for Hispanic undocumented brothers and sisters. The movement for human rights connects and unites us all.

“Brother Martin reminded us that we may have come on different ships but we are in the same boat now. Tonight in these turbulent times, we share the same boat, brothers, sisters, Hispanic, Anglo, straight, gay, undocumented, legally protected, young, old, African American, Native American — all now in the same boat.”

Gomez said, “I believe that you and I also have a dream. And together we can come together and make sure this is a dream of justice and equality. In Mexico we had dreamers. They dreamt for land, liberty and justice. Now I ask you, ‘what is your dream?’’

A 35-member community gospel choir sang and the congregation read aloud and listened to the words of Dr. King. Musicians Tim Mayer, Paul Thompson and Steve McLennon provided music, and high school students Olivia Newcomb and Caitlyn Fick and AnnElise Acosta performed John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

A peace offering was accepted for the day camp Peace Village, held each August. Its coordinator, Dee Campos-Davis, said Peace Village is in the planning stages for its seventh year. It provides experiences teaching about justice, community service and sustainability.

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