BARSTOW • Ray L. Dixon spent about five minutes talking about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy, but he closed his speech at Barstow's annual peace breakfast Monday with a story about how a Nebraska rabbi disarmed a Klu Klux Klansman with love.
The rabbi, Michael Weisser, realized that the man who had been making threats, Larry Trapp, was nearly blind and, at age 42, a double amputee, said Dixon, a reverend with the Union Missionary Baptist Church. The rabbi called Trapp on the phone, leaving messages on his answering machine, nearly every day. When Trapp finally picked up his phone, Weisser offered a ride to the grocery store.
"He disarmed the man by kindness," Dixon said, adding that this rabbi's experience, which took place in 1991, is often told to ministers and other religious leaders. "For a rabbi to show what Christian love was all about exemplifies what (this) observance day is all about."
Black people, white people, Hispanic people, young people and older people linked arms and filled Sizzler's restaurant with "We Shall Overcome" during the peace breakfast, hosted by the Barstow Arts and Industrial Women's and Men's Club. Most who attended also marched up Barstow Road during Saturday's peace march.
Courtney Reynolds, who attended the breakfast and the march with his mother, siblings and nieces and nephews, said he thought there were more people and more of a mix of people at this year's breakfast than last year.
"Last year there were a lot of black folk," he said. "This year, it's everybody."
This year's breakfast brought Carol Mills, an Apple Valley resident who taught fourth grade and junior high school in Adelanto. Mills also lived in Los Angeles during the 1960s and can remember watching the marches and speeches on television as well as coverage of the John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and King assassinations.
"It left a feeling of fear and discouragement," she said, adding that she also remembers what the Freedom Riders went through to end segregation in the south. "The violence was just ugly."
Mills used her experiences in the 1960s to help put on Martin Luther King Jr. events and programs for the students she taught.
"I think segregation has been overcome," she said. "I think we've come a long ways to embracing colors of skin, age, disabilities and accents."
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