The Baha’i Community honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Paradise Valley

Dr. Warren Stewart shakes hands with Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins after receiving his 2017 Town of Paradise Valley Diversity Award Monday, Jan. 16 during the town’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez).

Residents and town leaders gathered Monday, Jan. 16 to hear an impassioned speech from Dr. Warren Stewart that electrified the scene and aspired to capture the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Paradise Valley Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive, served as host for the celebration saluting the civil rights icon and beloved American.

The Paradise Valley Baha’i Community sponsored and organized the annual event in connection with the Town of Paradise Valley. Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins said every year, he is amazed at what the Baha’i Community puts together — and this occasion was no different.

“With Dr. Stewart here, today was particularly special given his participation in the MLK movement here in Arizona,” Mayor Collins said Jan. 16 at Town Hall. “We were really fortunate to get him here today and are really proud to bring this to the community and to host this.”

Jacob Singer, an eighth grader from Phoenix Country Day School, accepts his award for winning in the Jr. Youth Essay Competition (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez).

Dr. Stewart, who significantly contributed to helping Martin Luther King Jr. Day become a federal holiday in Arizona in 1992, was also the recipient of the 2017 Town of Paradise Valley Diversity Award.

“This is something I accept for all those who serve with us and for everyone of those 600,000 voters who voted in favor of Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and those who have been beneficiaries of that historic vote on Nov. 3, 1992,” he said during the Jan. 16 event.

“I accept this award on their behalf.”

Dr. Angelita Reyes also spoke at the event and Jo Watson and the Birdman performed “A Change is Gonna Come.” The event also featured a presentation of the MLK National Day of Service and a video presentation on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

Additionally, Quincy Bowers,a fifth grader from Montessori Academy; Taran Jacobs, a sixth grader from Montessori Academy; and Jacob Singer, an eighth grader from Phoenix Country Day School, were all Jr. Youth Essay Competition winners.

The theme for this year’s essay contest was “From Dream to Action.”

Dr. Stewart’s Speech

The basis of Dr. Stewart’s impassioned speech was eight lessons he learned from Dr. King and the campaign to get Martin Luther King Jr. Day a state-recognized holiday.

His first lesson he shared was how leadership comes with a price.

“Anyone, any person or any group that has stepped out or has been pushed out in order to make a difference in our society must be on fire and they must realize they will be under fire,” he said.

Jo Watson performs with the Birdman “A Change is Gonna Come,” Monday, Jan. 16 during the town’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez).

Dr. Stewart then urged future leaders to keep focused as his second lesson, followed by his third lesson of broadening a base of support. Dr. Stewart admonished for those who become leaders to not dilute their strength in broadening their base of support.

His fourth lesson he learned was to use the position as a leader to educate, enlighten and to inspire.

Dr. Stewart’s fifth lesson centered on sticking with principles or good moral standards of whatever cause a leader endeavors to head. His sixth lesson was to build a consensus to reach goals and provide a beacon for all to look to in times of trial and contention.

Dr. Stewart’s seventh lesson he shared was simply “don’t give up, persevere.” He concluded his list of lessons with an advisement to believe that God is real and with those who may lead a cause.

Dr. Stewart finished his speech by discussing faith and its effect it can have on a cause and society.

“Faith, Dr. King’s faith, everyday, working faith is not an ancient relic to be carted out in public only when we are in trouble, my friends,” he said. “No, no, we need Dr. King’s freedom-fostering faith of working together, unifying us against great odds that we face not just on the third Monday in January, but everyday the Lord allows us to wake up.”

Dr. Reyes was the first speaker at the event and she focused her remarks on the essay writers’ theme of “From Dream to Action.” She said she was impressed with the next generation’s vision and advised them to activate that vision.

Dr. Angelita Reyes speaks to the audience at the Town of Paradise Valley Town Hall Monday, Jan. 16 during the town’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez).

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