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12th Annual Martin Luther King Day Conference:
The New Millenium and the Dream
January 15, 2000 ~ Addison Conference Center, Addison, Texas

Sponsored by the
Bahá'ís of Carrollton, Texas

 

Reported by Sara Jalalizadeh

The Carrollton, Texas Bahá'í community sponsored its twelfth annual, and final, Martin Luther King Day Conference, "The New Millennium and the Dream: Solutions for Racial Harmony," January 15, 2000. More than 300 people attended the event. Speakers for the event were Dr. Richard Thomas, Bahá'í race relations author and activist, and Bob Ray Sanders, local television commentator and newspaper columnist.

For the past twelve years, about 200 to 300 people from various religions, races, backgrounds and beliefs have attended this annual conference. Speakers have included elected officials, media figures, ministers, and business leaders.

The city of Carrollton and the Metrocrest Chamber of Commerce each honored the Bahá'ís of Carrollton with a proclamation thanking them for sponsoring the conference for 12 years. The mayor proclaimed January 15, 2000 to be "Bahá'ís of Carrollton Day." The mayor later said that the Bahá'ís opened his eyes and the eyes of the city to greater acceptance of all people.


Dr. Richard Thomas

 

When the Carrollton Bahá'ís began organizing the conference 12 years ago, there were no other Martin Luther King events in their city or any of the surrounding cities. The city of Carrollton held its own large Martin Luther King event for the second time this year, and another local organization sponsored two other Martin Luther King events in the city during the weekend. The Bahá'ís have been asked to work with the city and the local group on their events. Because of these developments, the Carrollton Bahá'ís decided that they had achieved their goal of raising awareness in the area, and that it was time to pass the torch and move on to pioneer other kinds of efforts.

One of the speakers, respected Dallas-Fort Worth area journalist Bob Ray Sanders, told the conference audience that when the Carrollton Bahá'ís approached him 11 years ago to speak at one of the first conferences, at first he was planning to decline. But when he heard that the Bahá'ís were trying to organize a Martin Luther King Day event in the mostly-white Carrollton-Farmers Branch suburban area, he said that he felt that he should come "to protect them." "If you can have a Martin Luther King Day conference here, you can have one anywhere," he said.


Bob Ray Sanders

 


About 300 people from all races and backgrounds attended the conference.


Fellowship after the conference.

 

Although the Bahá'í Community of Carrollton initiated and sponsors the conference, other groups and organizations have agreed in recent years to assist, making this event a practical exercise in harmony.

This year, local individuals, Carrollton-Farmers Branch public schools, the local newspaper, two different churches and several Bahá'í communities and groups contributed actively to making the event a success.

For the fourth consecutive year, The Metrocrest News provided cash prizes for the best essays on "The Oneness of Humanity" from each of the three Carrollton-Farmers Branch public high schools. A reporter from The Metrocrest News and representatives of all three area high schools presented the awards during the conference. The Metrocrest News also published the winning students' essays and several news stories before and after the event.


The Dallas Baha'i Youth Workshop danced eloquently about racial harmony.

 

Singers from two different religious traditions - Simms Chapel A.M.E. Church, and Horizon Unitarian Universalist Church -- performed in a historic combined choir, as well as in separate peformances. The program also included a spirited performance by the Dallas Bahá'í Youth Workshop and a dramatic presentation by Kamilyah Everett.

During the past year, two longtime participants of the conference asked some of the Carrollton Bahá'ís to help start a small informal group to socialize and build stronger personal relationships across racial lines. The group has been holding monthly "Trust Dinners" in the homes of its members, during which they talk about their life experiences and try to understand one another better. The group has been slowly growing over the past year.

 

 

Proclamations:  

Office of the Mayor
Proclamation
City of Carrollton

Bahá'ís of Carrollton

WHEREAS, On January 15, 1989, the Bahá'ís of Carrollton sponsored their first Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Conference and continued to sponsor the event for 12 consecutive years for the benefit of the people of Carrollton and its surrounding cities; and

WHEREAS, Bahá'ís believe that the highest station a person can attain is to be a servant of humanity, and that the problem of race relations is the most vital and challenging issue in our nation; and

WHEREAS, they have organized this event in an effort to live up to their creed, as a service to their neighbors and to encourage everyone in their community to exert themselves to bring greater harmony among the races in our area.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Milburn R. Gravley, Mayor of the City of Carrollton, Texas, do hereby proclaim January 15, 2000 as

Bahá'ís of Carrollton Day
in
Carrollton, Texas

on the occasion of their 12th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Conference, and commend the Bahá'ís of Carrollton in the area of race relation and acting as a force for unity in the Metrocrest area.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the City of Carrollton, Texas to be affixed this 15th day of January, 2000.

Milburn R. Gravley, Mayor

 
     

PROCLAMATION

In recognition of Bahá'ís of Carrollton's
Commitment to the Annual Remembrance and Celebration
of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

WHEREAS, the Bahá'ís of Carrollton initiated the first Martin Luther King Day Conference in the Metrocrest area twelve years ago today as a service to the community; and

WHEREAS, Bahá'ís everywhere believe that humanity is one family, all people are members of one race and that our differences bring beauty and richness to our world; and

WHEREAS, now each year community leaders, local businesses, city governments, school districts, churches and individual citizens gather to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT PROCLAIMED BY THE METROCREST CHAMBER OF COMMERCE that

  1. The Bahá'ís of Carrollton are to be commended for their diligent efforts to bring local recognition and celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  2. That all citizens of the Metrocrest recognize that all are created equal and members of the family of humankind.

Proclaimed this 15th day of January, 2000

Keith Braley, Chairman of the Board
Ed Brady, President