Sacramento (CA) – Over 250 people attended the annual California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast The Legacy Continues: Committed to Excellence in Community Service, to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King, and recognize individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to work for the betterment of African Americans and others throughout California.
“We are privileged to host this breakfast in honor of the greatest civil rights leader of our time and whose words and actions have become the template for social justice in America and throughout the world,” said CLBC chair, Assemblymember Chris Holden. “Our awardees today are incredible people who have contributed selflessly to this great State. Through their dedication and hard work, they carry on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy and are an inspiration for future generations.”
The breakfast, attended by Governor Jerry Brown, Members of the Legislature, and community leaders, was emceed by Neketia Henry, weekend reporter for KCRA. The keynote speech was offered by Roland S. Martin, host and managing editor of TV One’s NewsOne Now.
“Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about justice,” said Governor Brown. “He spoke from his heart. He spoke with the eloquence of a preacher, but a man of God and a man of religion and a man of the movement. That authenticity is exactly what is needed today.”
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the CLBC. For the last 50 years the CLBC has played an instrumental role in advocating for fair housing, fighting against redlining in banking and insurance, and pushing against apartheid in South Africa. The CLBC plans to continue the legacy of Dr. King by prioritizing criminal justice reform, environmental justice, and helping to ensure greater access to education and enterprise for African Americans.
Lawmakers joining Assemblymember Holden to the newly elected leadership team include Assemblymember Shirley Weber (AD – 78), first vice-chair; Senator Steven Bradford (SD – 35), second vice-chair; Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (AD – 54), secretary; and Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (AD – 7), treasurer.
Awards for this year’s leadership breakfast are as follows:
- Myra Turner, Distinguished Government Service Award. Myra Turner is the Floor Director for Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon who has worked in the Capitol for nearly 30 years. She was first hired for this position by Speaker Cruz M. Bustamante in 1996 and was retained by Speakers Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Robert M. Hertzberg, Herb J. Wesson Jr., Fabian Núñez, Karen R. Bass, John A. Pérez, and Toni G. Atkins. Turner coordinates the administration of Assembly Floor Session.
- Mark Terry, Distinguished Government Service Award. Mark Terry, son of famed Tuskegee Airman Roger Terry, was raised in South Central Los Angeles, and has dedicated his career to public service. After earning a law degree at Stanford, Terry worked as an American Civil Liberties Association staff attorney. Since 1981, Terry has worked for the Office of Legislative Counsel. He currently focuses on the subjects of higher education, K-12 education, and finance.
- Rory Kaufman, Community Activist Award. A staunch community activist, Rory Kaufman’s passion to guide and counsel youth led him to the Teen Post, Inc. and Los Angeles Unified School District. He honed his political acumen as deputy to former County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke. His work at the Van Nuys Chamber of Commerce catapulted his rise as a popular disc jockey for KDAY radio and community affairs director for KJLH radio. He was later chosen associate producer and master of ceremony at the Apollo Theater. Kaufman now serves as a vital staff member to Assemblymember Shirley Weber.
- Curtis J. Earnest, Diversity in Government Award. Curtis Earnest currently serves as Chief of Staff to Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price. Earnest is recognized as an excellent policy and political strategist, who under the direction of then Senator Price, former CLBC Chair, distinguished himself as the chief architect of the CLBC, whose efforts led to the expansion of the Caucus in 2012, yielding two additional seats in the Assembly. However, Earnest is most recognized for promoting diversity in the legislature and the executive branch.
- John Burris Esq., Civil Rights Leadership Award. Prominent Bay Area civil rights attorney John Burris is best known for handling high-profile cases. One notable case currently being handled by Burris is the sexual exploitation scandal at the center of the Oakland police department. Burris is a founding member of the National Police Accountability Project and the recipient of the Herman Sweatt Award for Civil Rights and the C. Francis Stradford Award, the National Bar Association’s highest honor. He also authored the popular book, Blue vs. Black: Lets End the Conflict between Police and Minorities.
Photo left to right: Mark Terry, CLBC Chair Assemblymember Chris Holden, Vice Chair Assemblymember Shirley Weber, Myra Turner, Governor Jerry Brown, John Burris Esq., Speaker Anthony Rendon, and Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer