Dedicating a Plaza

By Henrietta J. Burroughs
East Palo Alto Today

An overflow crowd showed up at the Palo Alto City Council Chambers in Palo Alto to witness the renaming of the Civic Center Plaza and its official dedication as the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King Plaza.

The plaza dedication took place on Monday, January 21, the official holiday in honor of Dr. King

Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell, who actively supported the renaming of the plaza while she was on the Palo Alto City Council last year said, "For me this is the culmination of my four years on the council and it couldn't be a better day."

Rev. Olmstead; former Palo Alto City Councilmember Roy Clay, Palo Alto Vice Mayor Peter Drekmeier
and former Palo Alto City Council member LaDoris Cordell

Cordell led the pre-dedication ceremony which started with presentations and ended with the uncovering of the plaque named for the Kings. The ceremony was attended by a multi- racial audience of various ages that filled the chamber and stood three and four deep in the hallways surrounding the back of the council chambers.


Some of the spectators in the Palo Alto City Council chambers during the pre-dedication ceremony on
January 21, 2008.

Others who participated in the pre-dedication ceremony included Palo Alto Mayor Larry Klein, Palo Alto City Council member Peter Drekmeier, Clarence B. Jones, a Scholar in Residence at Stanford University, Rev. Robert Olmstead, a colleague of Dr. King's in Selma, Alabama and Roy Clay, the first African American to serve on the Palo Alto City Council

"I am really moved," said California State Assembly member Palo Alto City Councilmember Peter Drekmeier. "The fact that this plaza is being named for the Kings is very important, but it is very important that you all thought it was important enough to be here," he said.

Drekmeier, who came up with the idea of renaming the plaza said, "There was a time when there was a chapter of the Klu Klux Klan here… It's so important that we not be passive observers but proactive for change. Every time I walk through this plaza, I will be reminded of how far we've come. Remember, we are non-violent, but we are strong."

With the close of ceremony inside the city council chamber, everyone filed out to see the unveiling of the plaque honoring the Kings.

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Former Palo Alto City Council member Roy Clay with Palo Alto City Council member
Yoriko Kishimoto stand beside the plaque dedicating the plaza to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
and Coretta Scott King.
Immediately after the unveiling, they listened to singers from Stanford University.

East Palo Alto City Council member Rubin Abrica said, "I think it's a fitting symbol for the work that all of our communities need to do for equality and justice for all people."