Weatherford Democrat

Local News

January 17, 2012

Honoring the dreams of one

— Several members of the community, as well as talents and notable speakers, joined Monday afternoon in the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The celebration, sponsored by the Weatherford/Parker County NAACP, kicked off with a panel of speakers at Hall Middle School to discuss what King stood for, as well as how his words still impact the nation today.

“We are here to honor the life and legacy of a man who helped bring change to one of the darkest times in our history,” Jeff Brazzell, president of the local NAACP chapter, said. “The theme for this year is to enlighten Parker County through efforts to keep [King’s] dream alive in some form of fashion.

“King was not a dreamer, he was a doer. He was a martyr and he died for the cause.”

The first speaker was Dr. Roberto Cardarelli, of Lone Star Medical Plaza in Willow Park. Cardarelli is known for his work as a local physician, as well as his efforts in medical research of discrimination.

“As a child, I always knew I wanted to be a doctor,” Cardarelli said. “My parents were from Italy, and I saw how the struggled against discrimination.”

Cardarelli’s research revolves around health disparities between different races, including the handling of discrimination and how it affects one’s health.

“Discrimination is just one of many types of stressers that all races suffer from,” he said. “What I found is that between active people and passive people, passive people who let it build up without doing or saying anything are more likely to have blockage in their heart than people who take some form of action.”

Jennifer C. Stimpson, science instructor at the Hockaday School of Dallas, followed Cardarelli.

“Being here is a big honor, blessing and a privilege. This is a day of service and we’re supposed to be giving back,” she told the crowd. “I realize that even though I’m not out doing something physical in the community, I’m here speaking to you and if I can plant just one little seed, I’ll have achieved my purpose.”

Stimpson is known for her efforts in the science community, and was recently featured in O Magazine, a publication by Oprah Winfrey, for her efforts in the bio-diesel fuel movement.

“I have a passion for science and chemistry,” she said. “I always tell people, ‘Don’t ever chase the dollar, chase your dream.’ I am so very rich in what I do.”

Stimpson, who attended school in Iowa, encouraged the crowd, especially the youth, to get involved with science and education at a young age.

“Exposing kids to science starts at the very beginning, because everyone these days has an iPod or a cell phone,” she said. “We’re not born second-hand citizens, but we’re raised to think that way and it’s our responsibility to change that and make a difference.”

Natalie Roetzel, chief staff attorney with the Innocence Project of Texas, concluded the panel by telling of the efforts of her organization, which specializes in the exoneration of innocent people who are incarcerated.

“Even though King made his [I have a dream] speech almost 50 years ago, our justice system is still not guaranteed and that’s been proven time and time again,” Roetzel said. “I spend my day working with students and investigating the innocence of individuals in prison.”

Roetzel said that in the last few years, 45 men in Texas have been exonerated through DNA testing, including Johnny Pinchback and Anthony Graves. In addition, more than 50 others have been exonerated without the need for DNA testing.

“The vast majority who have suffered injustice are minorities,” Roetzel said. “But it takes an entire community to make changes in the system.”

The crowd grew dramatically as family and friends showed up during the evening to support the winners of the MLK coloring contest, essay and artistic expression, as well as enjoy the Parker County Has Talent show, which concluded the festivities.

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