Were the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. still alive he’d turn 88 Sunday, beating Barbara Walters to that age by just months. Imagine the birthday interview they might have shared.
Sonoma County will celebrate the birth of King on Sunday evening, as it has since 1981. There’s always something new to the event; this year, there won’t be a keynote speaker.
Instead a panel of four men, all of whom grew up hereabouts, will reflect on the African-American perspective. Expect dialogue on encounters with police and what has to happen, nearly 50 years after King’s assassination, for true racial healing to occur.
Speaker Ephraim Walker lived for part of his childhood outside of Sebastopol. He’s in filmmaking now and worked on “Fruitvale Station,” based on the 2009 killing of Oscar Grant by a BART police officer.
Rubin Scott belongs to 100 Black Men of Sonoma County and has written four adolescent development books.
Trevor Gardner is an educator, advocate of restorative justice and a white man whose partner is African-American.
And Maurice Travis, who had a difficult childhood in Ukiah, is a licensed therapist focused on youth who confront serious challenges.
Starting at 7 p.m. Sunday in the auditorium at Santa Rosa High School, the MLK celebration will also feature music that’s hard to stay seated to, stirring speeches by local students, frank talk, plentiful birthday cake and hope.
WORKS OF HEART: It’s the perfect name for an unusual show and sale of Sonoma County art that will bolster an essential, no-charge health clinic that braces for more patients as a new administration in Washington bears down on the Affordable Care Act.
“We’re definitely going to be seeing an increase in numbers as health care falls apart,” Donna Waldman said. She directs the Jewish Community Free Clinic in Santa Rosa.
As they prepare for more people with nowhere else to turn for medical attention, Waldman and other champions of the art-adorned clinic also pursue a brilliant concept for helping it pay its bills.
Works of Heart is a charitable art sale featuring works from more than 40 local artists, all of whom will donate 50 percent of the sale price to the clinic. You can view a catalogue of the art at jewishfreeclinic.org. Under “Community Engagement,” click on “Upcoming Events.”
The artwork for sale will grace a Mimosa Brunch and show at noon on Jan. 29 at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts.
THE INN CROWD: Good for the not yet 2-year-old Inn at Newport Ranch, a seaside haven nestled within a 2,000-acre working cattle ranch just north of Fort Bragg.
USA Today invited readers across America to vote for their favorite new hotel, and the Inn at Newport Ranch finished No. 6. It’s unlikely any of the others on the Best 10 list offer rooms built around redwood trees.
LIKE TO WATCH: In Geyserville earlier this soggy, frequently frightful week, some folks clustered on an Alexander Valley Road driveway and sipped the juice of the vine while taking in the spectacle of motorists going amphibious through floodwater near the Russian River bridge.
Marveled Geyserville Fire Capt. Joe Stewart, “Only in Wine Country.”