Keynote speaker Mel Wilson

A message of peace and community stood alongside the standout vocal performances that highlighted the Martin Luther King Day program put on by the Valley Intercommunity Council.

The audience inside the Church of Christ in Reseda on Monday, Jan. 21, were entertained by the gospel choirs and attentive to the keynote address delivered by community activist Mel Wilson, and other speakers that included Soraya Deen, Sarabjit Singh, Lydia McCarter, and Rabbi Karen Bender 

Among those in attendance were state Assemblymember Jesse  Gabriel and Rep. Brad Sherman.

The organization — formerly known as the Valley Interfaith Council — has been offering programs celebrating the memory and achievements of the slain civil rights leader for the past 21 years.

Patrick Nichelson, chair of the board of directors, said promoting peace, civility and acceptance has become even more important in the country’s current political climate.

“All the present rhetoric of hate and division bothers the council very much,” said Nichelson, pointing out the organization was founded more than 50 years ago in part to respond to the practice of “redlining” residential property in various communities.

“We are also nervous about the rhetoric about the cutting back of social programs. We, for one, depend on Meals on Wheels to help us feed seniors. We will do everything we can to help restore sanity.”