By John Fout, Community & Media Relations Specialist, Contra Costa County Office of Communications & Media
In 2021, fifty-three years will have passed since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. That sobering reminder will serve as a backdrop to Contra Costa County’s 43rd Annual Commemoration of Dr. King’s life and legacy. The Board of Supervisors welcomes the public to watch a virtual community celebration on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, at 11 am.
“Contra Costa County welcomes the public to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and help us honor a Humanitarian and Student Humanitarian of the Year. These honorees serve the residents of Contra Costa with dedication and heart. Together, we will commemorate Dr. King and commit to continuing our work together to address issues of racial injustice and inequality in our communities,” said Board Chair, Supervisor Diane Burgis.
The theme of the event is “Silence is Not an Option.” Countywide recognition will be given to the Adult Humanitarian of the Year, Velma Wilson from Antioch, and the Student Humanitarian of the Year, Kimyatta Newby, a recent graduate of Middle College High School in San Pablo. Their stories of leadership, advocacy, and service have impacted Contra Costa County, its residents and communities, and reflect the spirit of Dr. King’s work and achievements.
The celebration will feature the voices of inspirational speakers from the community, including Mike Anderson, former Mayor of Lafayette, Iris Archuleta, Co-founder Emerald HPC International, Merl Craft, Mayor of Pittsburg, Reverend Phillip Lawson, retired pastor and civil rights activist, and Shanelle Scales-Preston, Pittsburg City Council Member. The program also includes entertainment from the Contra Costa School of Performing Arts.
About Velma Wilson
In her actions, her words, and her example, Velma Wilson lives her life as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called us to live.
Velma is a selfless, tireless volunteer in the community and the county. She has served by leading her community and many organizations to promote and foster diversity, equality, and justice. She organized food distribution, school supply, and other drives in service to our county’s most vulnerable.
Velma has coordinated the annual Antioch MLK Day Celebration, the Antioch Veterans and Memorial Day observances, in addition to many other events. Her leadership skills and creativity bring together local, state, and federal elected officials, as well as the community-at-large.
Her list of leadership and volunteer roles includes serving as the parent and student engagement liaison for Antioch United School District, Vice President of Legislation and Education for the 32nd District PTA, 1st Vice President of East Contra Costa County NAACP, and Community Member for African American Male Achievement Initiative. Local service organizations have also benefitted greatly from her membership and involvement.
Her commitment to the Census 2020 effort led her to become a Census Bureau field supervisor. Her relationships and understanding of Antioch and Contra Costa County helped to ensure that both our homeless and unsheltered populations counted and our hardest-to-reach residents in some of the toughest neighborhoods.
About Kimyatta Newby
Kimyatta Newby serves on the San Pablo Youth Commission (SPYC). The Commission is a youth leadership and civic engagement program that increases youth participation in local government. During her tenure with the SPYC, Kimyatta demonstrated her passion to lead her peers and impact the community. Her passion is most evident during her facilitation of youth-led workshops.
Commitment to SPYC led to an election to multiple leadership roles, serving as Chair, Vice Chair, Interim Chair, and Event Coordinator. She grew the work of the Youth Commission by proposing ambitious goals to the City Council and worked diligently to fulfill each one. Through the expansion of ongoing youth recruitment, she brought in eight new members.
While at Middle College High School, Kimyatta was an active member of the Associated Student Union, Metas, Black Student Union, Latino Student Union, Leadership, the Dance Team, and Current Events & Debate.
In 2020, she became the West County young leader and organizer for Black youth and accelerated her efforts during the pandemic. She and her peers asked high school administration to address violence, injustice, and inequities for students of color. She began peaceful protests around the Bay Area. Kimyatta organized the George Floyd Solidarity Protest, which attracted over 1,000 participants in Pinole. Her interests include journalism. She wrote articles for the Richmond Pulse to cover black mental health, transitioning from high school to college, and the recent presidential election results.
Kimyatta is currently a freshman, studying remotely, at Howard University
The public can watch the virtual live-stream at http://www.contracosta.ca.gov/6086 or www.contracostatv.org. The celebration will also be broadcast live on Contra Costa Television (CCTV) channels, Comcast Cable 27, ATT/U-Verse 99, and WAVE 32. To learn more about the Dr. King Ceremony and past ceremonies, visit www.contracosta.ca.gov/5307 in the Community section of Contra Costa County’s website.