Renowned social activist Gabriella Rosco will be the keynote speaker at the birthday celebration for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, Jan. 19, at the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) Auditorium, 525 Wilshire Blvd.

The free event — one of the largest and most diverse celebrations of its kind in Southern California — is scheduled for 9 a.m. The event is sponsored by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition, a nonprofit coalition whose missions are consistent with King’s legacy. Event co-sponsors are the City of Santa Monica; RAND Corporation; CityTV-Santa Monica; SGI-USA; Santa Monica College; and the SMC Associates.

This year’s celebration marks the event’s 30th anniversary and embraces the theme “The Fierce Urgency of Now.” The multi-ethnic, interfaith program will include inspirational readings, speakers, music, and the MLK Education Awards. Immediately following the program, a Community Involvement Fair offering refreshments and informational displays by a variety of community organizations will be held nearby at the SGI Youth Center, 606 Wilshire Blvd.

Rosco is an organizer in Santa Monica for CLUE-LA (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice-Los Angeles), which educates and mobilizes the faith community to support workers and their families in their struggles for justice, respect, and dignity in the workplace and the neighborhood.

Rosco, a native of Los Angeles, has always had a passion for social justice and a belief in the importance of working for systemic changes. She participated in many service trips, and was particularly influenced by a 2001 Borderlinks study-abroad program that took her to the U.S.-Mexico border area. The deep immersion into a world filled with injustice fueled her desire to be part of lasting change.

Rosco studied at Westmont Christian College, starting as a biology major, but changing to liberal studies after hearing a message from Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries. She went on to Azusa Pacific University, then began working with marginalized communities as an elementary school teacher. She joined CLUE-LA in 2012.

For more information about this event, please call (310) 941-9172 or (310) 434-4003.

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