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Phoenix MLK Day

Turns Political

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Two children walked in the march while carrying a torch in remembrance of MLK.
At Festival Marking Civil Rights Leader, The August Battle For The South Phoenix City Council Seat Takes Center Stage With Warren Stewart In The Spotlight

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By John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine

Jan. 22, 2013 — On the date of the 20th “official” state holiday celebration, Monday morning in downtown Phoenix, politics took to the stage after the marchers arrived at Margaret T. Hance Park, especially the candidacy of the Rev. Warren Stewart of the First Institutional Baptist Church, 1141 E. Jefferson Ave., Phoenix.

“No vote, no voice, no vote, no voice,” said Michael Johnson, the current and term limited Phoenix council representative for district 8. “I would ask you to join me in supporting someone who has not only been supportive of the district but the community. He's been a trailblazer who has been out there supporting the people in the community, supporting those who are underserved. He has been the voice for all of those who have not had a voice. I ask you to support the person who has been there, the person who has made this celebration. He was the first one there. Support, as I am, Dr. Warren Stewart for district 8.”

Stewart had been rumored to be pondering a run for months. He has been a prominent member of the Phoenix community since the 1980s when he led Arizonans for a Martin Luther King, Jr. State Holiday and later organized Victory Together, the broad coalition that eventually got a MLK holiday passed by voters in 1992. He has also served in various positions in the Baptist church. In 2012, he was elected chair of the board of the National Immigration Forum.

“As I look around this festival today and I interact with people day in and day out, Dr. King’s dream has come true. Let’s give praise to Dr. King and give praise to a dream that was a prophesy,” Stewart said directly addressing the theme of the day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Stewart did pivot back to his current battle: Phoenix City Council district 8.

“For me, it is all about community. For Dr. King, it was all about community. It is all about community and justice and the fact that we have more in common that we do not have in common,”  Stewart said. “I am extremely humbled, I am honored and almost overwhelmed. The leaders in our community, a few days ago came to me and they said we are asking you, Pastor Stewart, to run and continue the legacy of community for city council district 8.”

Stewart said his candidacy was not about him, but the people of the district.

“It will not be a ‘me’ thing, it will be a ‘we’ thing,” he said.

Other declared candidates for the Phoenix City Council district 8 seat include Lawrence Robinson and Kate Gallego.

John Guzzon is editor of Modern Times Magazine.
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