MARTIN LUTHER KING, Jr. FOUNDATION
In 1987, the San Diego community had become deeply divided over the ballot initiative, which resulted in the stripping of the name "Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive" and reverting the street to its original name, "Market Street". Searching for a way to diffuse the situation, the president of the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce approached Rev. George Walker Smith with a proposition. The proposal was to develop a committee to raise funds and establish an appropriate permanent memorial to Dr. King.
The Committee decided it would be appropriate to have two types of memorials--an artistic memorial depicting the life and work of Dr. King, and a perpetual memorial scholarship award. The criteria for the scholarship were students whose leadership, academic achievement and community service reflect the principles promoted by Dr. King. Together, school children and adults joined forces to raise funds for the two memorials.
In 1990, Tom Carter assumed chairmanship of the Martin Luther King Memorial Committee. With a target date of January 15, 1991, anniversary of Dr. King's birthday, subcommittees were formed to accomplish the tasks at hand. The planning for the artistic memorial eventually faltered due to the difficulty of finding a suitable site, the expense of establishing the artistic memorial, and the barriers involved in presenting a memorial as a gift to the City of San Diego.
However, the Committee kept the memorial scholarship alive and proposed to the Chamber that the perpetual scholarship be implemented in 1991 with the funds already raised. And so it was, the first recipients, Cindy Tinsley and Armond Washington were selected and awarded scholarships in 1991. The recipients are selected from an ethnically diverse group of students that emulate the qualities of Dr. King in their daily lives. Initially, awards were made to two students at $5,000 each. Since that time, additional $7,500 scholarships were established in the names of Rev. George Walker Smith and Thomas F. Carter, bringing the annual award to a minimum of four students and $25,000.
The scholarships are funded by the annual San Diego Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial Golf Tournament that was begun in 1993. In 1996, Reese Jarrett assumed responsibility for chairing the annual golf event and spearheaded the effort to establish the Foundation as a full-fledged 501c3 charitable corporation. In January 1997, the Foundation was established and continues its scholarship efforts under the following leadership:
Reese A. Jarrett, President, Chief Financial Officer &
Chairman of the Board