Hands Across Azusa: Celebrating MLK

by Katelyn Noll '07

APU students and residents of Azusa and the surrounding community met at Azusa City Hall at 2 p.m. on Sunday, January 15, to commemorate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the fourth annual Hands Across Azusa. People of all ages and ethnicities attended the event, and it was a day of meeting new people and learning to love the differences in one other.

About 25 APU students and staff met at Trinity Lawn at 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon and walked together to the city hall. Terry Franson, Ph.D., vice president for student life and dean of students, as well as member of the Azusa Human Relations Commission, led the group, walking arm-in-arm with ASB President Tiffany Porter '06.

Along they way, students discussed their personal cross-cultural experiences and why they attended the event.

John Pfeil ’09 thought the event was a good gesture for the community and hoped it would bring unity between APU and the city of Azusa.

“I’m so proud of you guys for coming,” Franson told the students when they arrived at city hall. “This means a lot.”

The event included hip-hop and stomp performances by APU students, flamenco dances performed by Maria Elena’s Dance Troupe, poetry by ninth grade students, tributes to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, and more.

The APU Gospel Choir performed several songs during the program, including the Negro National Anthem. Gladstone High School students were involved with the school’s band performing jazz music and the National Anthem, and Jr. ROTC students led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Azusa Human Relations Commission Chairperson Paul Naccachian spoke about the purpose of the celebration. “This year’s theme is about love. Love is about understanding.” He urged the community to learn to listen to and love one another.

APU student and global studies major Alisha Adams ’07 appreciated seeing people from different backgrounds coming together to celebrate differences. She thinks it is crucial that other APU students get involved with community events like this because being a good neighbor is an important part of being a Christian. “We need to recognize that we are really guests of the community,” she said.

Marty Villanueva, member of the Azusa Human Relations Commission, agreed. “APU has helped us so much,” she says. It was her desire that the day’s event unite the city with the APU community.

To contact the Azusa Human Relations Commission, call (626) 812-5133.