Happen it did. Coming from a baptism, I was five minutes late and scrambled into the upper reaches of the balcony for a seat (luckily, no such thing as a bad seat at the vintage 1927 El Campanil Theatre). Minutes later it was standing room only in a theater seating 698. The organizers had hoped for 200 people and prayed for 300. Ah, sweet surprise.
Crowd wasn’t the sole reason to color the event a success. If ever there was a mixed crowd, this was it. It was a resplendent swath of humanity where black, white and brown stood tall and stood beautiful.
Then credit three hours of knock-your-socks-off show. Kudos to the school contest winners: high school $1,000 MLK youth art contest first prize went to Delta Performing Arts Academy; $500 second prize to Devonaire Bryant of Bidwell High; $300 third prize to Lindsey Walker, Kim Calalsi, Daryl Jackson and Spencer Dobbins of Deer Valley; middle school first prize went to Cheyenne Navarro of Antioch Middle; second prize to Rodrigo Guitterez of Antioch Middle; and third prize to Siska Blaz of Dallas Ranch Middle.
Cheers to presenters Mary Rocha, Antioch City Council; and David Fraser, District 5 Board of Supervisor Federal Glover’s Chief of Staff; and to keynote speaker A.U.S.D. Superintendent Dr. Deborah Sims for reminding us that there could be no Jan. 20 without Jan. 19; to Pastor Kelly for his invocation; Pastor Smith for the benediction; and to performers Antioch Church Family for their awesome, national-award-winning Antioch Voices choral group; Grace Bible Fellowship for an outstanding dance ensemble; and for the sensational WEMIME troupe silently but exuberantly punctuating gospel songs with dance and pantomime; to Sarah Trail for a superb piano recital; and to rousing rapper Young Brett and comedienne Ms. Onion for bringing the crowd to its feet.
Yes, for one enchanted afternoon in mid-January, under the roof of the gilded, frescoed ceilings of the fabled El Campanil Theatre, which has transfixed audiences with the wizardry of performing icons Clark Gable, Duke Ellington, Roy Rogers, Al Jolsen, Groucho Marx and Sally Rand, Antioch was again spellbound. This time the magic was borne not on keyboards, nor comedic lines, nor fan dances, but on the wings of a dream inspired by a giant of a man gazing from a mountaintop of hope.
The dream transported the spirits of 700 citizens to the rafters and unto a world beyond where the substance of soul, not the superficialities of skin shade, counted; a world in which one race ruled, the human race; a world in which black, white, red and brown were all cherished as God’s chosen heirs.
Is it not liberating to dream? After all, as is said, there is no Mahatma Gandhi, no Martin Luther King, no John or Robert Kennedy left. There is, though, you and I. As the charge goes, if not us, then who?
I hope you, too, are a dreamer.