“Never Lose Hope”

Peace and community.

Upholding the dream—The SGI-USA co-sponsors an event honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Santa Monica, Calif., Jan. 15. Keynote speaker Tommie Smith (center), an Olympic gold medalist, with local youth who received education awards.

If you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl; but by all means keep moving. —Martin Luther King Jr.

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Jan. 15—Never Lose Hope: Unity Wins.

Such was the theme and spirit behind the 33rd Annual Celebration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., held on MLK Day at the SGI-USA World Peace Ikeda Auditorium.

The event—co-sponsored by the SGI-USA and presented by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Westside Coalition—brought together various religious leaders, community activists and local citizens who reaffirmed their commitment to building a society that cherishes the dignity of human life.

Attendees included city officials, Santa Monica College President Kathryn Jeffery and keynote speaker Tommie Smith, a 1968 Olympic gold medalist, human rights activist and former Santa Monica College professor and coach.

Photos by Leticia Rey and Debra Williams.

The celebration also honored the youth who will light the way for a hope-filled future. Santa Monica High School senior May Kono (pictured second from right) received an education award for her screenplay “Dare to Be,” which was inspired by her Buddhist practice and touches on the themes of courage, friendship and being true to oneself. “I want to continue working toward my dream of becoming a screenwriter who can inspire others to be the change they want to see in the world, ” she said.

Ms. Kono, who plans to be a taiko drummer at the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival in Los Angeles, said that the award represents the coming together of the humanistic philosophies of SGI President Ikeda and Dr. King.