City, Chandler group partners on MLK vigil - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

City, Chandler group partners on MLK vigil

January 9th, 2018 development
City, Chandler group partners on MLK vigil


For the first time, the City of Chandler is partnering with a nonprofit organization pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a special event.

The city and Chandler Men of Action are organizing One: A Candlelight Vigil for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from 5 to 7 p.m. Jan. 14 on the Downtown Chandler Stage just west of the Downtown Library at

22 S. Delaware St.

The City of Chandler’s Diversity Office holds Celebration of Unity events every January to honor the community’s diversity and heritage, as well as the life, legacy, spirit and ideals of King Jr. and the civil rights movement.

The Chandler Multicultural Festival has been “the highlight of the events,” but the festival does not pay specific homage to King Jr., said Niki Tapia, resources and diversity supervisor with the city’s Diversity Office.

The African-American community often gave feedback that “nothing is a specific tribute to him,” Tapia said.

“The diversity that exists here in Chandler is just wonderful,” she said. “We in the diversity office are members of East Valley NAACP. We just really value our partnership with Chandler Men of Action. We have a lot of similarities and we should appreciate all of those and we should appreciate our differences too and we should work together.”

Victor Hardy, president of Chandler Men of Action, said his intent with the vigil is “to really, really celebrate his ideals and the future that we have.

“He is a representative of what we can do,” Hardy said of King, adding:

“He was a man, he had flaws, but still he rose this nation to a plateau, to a place which we had never seen before. That’s what we wanted to celebrate. We decided to have people come in and talk about him as a theologian, as a pastor. He’s the only pastor that we do celebrate in this Christian country.”

Hardy and the other members of the Chandler Centennial Celebration Choir, or C4, will perform a song they wrote called “This Is Chandler” at the candlelight vigil.

The song is based on a tune by singer-songwriter Darius Rucker, but it is “about the diversity in Chandler,” Hardy said. C4 will also sing “I Have a Dream” by BeBe Winans.

“We wanted to celebrate what Chandler does as a city of diverse people and what we have to offer here,” Hardy said. “A lot of people say other places they go tell you, ‘There is no place like Chandler, Arizona.’ We can learn from each other. We want to know and understand so we have respect for each other and what we’re doing. African-American men come from other places. I am also part Irish.”

Hardy, who is also pastor at Congregational Church of the Valley in Chandler, said he is “African-American with a mixture of some of everything else.” Leaders of different faiths will speak about unity and King at the Jan. 14 gathering and other musical performers will also take the stage.

Video clips of King, including his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, will be shown at the event. At the end of the vigil, everyone will hold up their phones to light up the night sky and sing “We Shall Overcome.”

Nonprofit organizations will set up tables and provide information at the vigil so “folks can sign up right then and there to do something, to get out in their community,” Tapia said.

Hardy said Chandler Men of Action is an organization made up of African-American professional men who mentor young men. They mostly mentor African-American men but will help any young men.

The young men help the Chandler Men of Action members support the Jewish Community Center, Chandler Symphony Orchestra, For Our City Chandler and other organizations by helping at events and fundraisers.

“We are there with some of our young people,” Hardy said. “Other times people don’t know that they’re there. We give them a spotlight to show what other people are doing so they don’t get locked into the only thing you see African-American men doing is basketball or football.”

Sometimes the young men who volunteer with the adults in Chandler Men of Action end up interning for them in their jobs. Chandler Men of Action also provides college scholarships to high school graduates and holds an annual banquet in Chandler.

The Chandler Multicultural Festival is joining forces with the Chandler International Film Festival this year and will take place Jan. 13 in the same area as the Martin Luther King Jr. event, just west of the downtown library.

The festival will feature entertainment, informational booths and merchandise, as it always has had, from 4 to 7 p.m. Then from about 7:10 to 9 p.m. the film festival portion of the night will take place with five different short films from different countries being shown.

The rest of the Chandler International Film Festival takes place Jan. 12-15 at the Crowne Plaza Phoenix Chandler Golf Resort, Harkins Theater Crossroads 12 and other venues.