Skip to content

Neighborhood activist and retired instructor leads Martin Luther King Jr. parade with love

Ardelle Matthews was slightly hesitant when she was first requested to function grand marshal within the annual Martin Luther King Jr. parade in downtown San Diego on Sunday. For greater than 40 years, the native chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity has hosted this celebration of the civil rights chief’s life and work, and for practically as lengthy, Matthews and her late husband (famous educator and neighborhood activist, Bob Matthews) have been instrumental in serving to to arrange and coordinate the parade.

“If you’re out within the public, folks would possibly say, ‘Oh, she thinks she’s higher as a result of she’s up there.’ That is not the way in which I consider it,” she says. “I consider doing an obligation as a human being to let others know that they’re liked, that they signify themselves and humanity, and that they need to be handled with respect whereas additionally treating others with respect.”

Since their arrival in 1955, the Matthews shortly turned dedicated to the work of equality and racial justice of their new neighborhood. They joined and led numerous native organizations, together with the City League, the NAACP, Christ United Presbyterian Church, the Kiwanis Membership, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. They have been additionally an enormous a part of the work to convey the Jackie Robinson YMCA to their neighborhood, and within the evolution of this weekend’s parade (from 2 to five pm Sunday alongside Harbor Drive and Pacific Freeway).

Matthews, 92, is a retired instructor and was married to her late husband for 67 years. She nonetheless lives within the Chollas View neighborhood the place they purchased their dwelling after they first arrived in San Diego, and has two grownup kids (a 3rd baby is deceased), seven grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. She took a while to speak about her love for others, fueled by her religion; her continued want to encourage and assist youngsters and younger adults locally; and the way she’s all the time loved an excellent dinner and a present.

Q: What does it imply so that you can lead the parade this yr?

A: It signifies that I’m attempting to signify that concept from Dr. Martin Luther King, that we’re all the identical and that we ought to be handled the identical, and that ought to have occurred many, a few years in the past. Since that has occurred a few years in the past and I’ve the chance to be dwelling on this age, on this time, I might wish to proceed expressing that type of perspective, that type of human being who’s loving, as a Christian, to all folks. Dr. King left an instance for us to observe and he represented the Christian religion, and I’m part of that. I wish to signify that love of the world’s folks as a result of we’re all human and we deserve the respect of one another as a result of God loves us. So, I am glad to be part of the parade.

The phrase “grand marshal” sounds so grand and stylish, eloquent and exquisite, so I wish to signify that magnificence that I do know is in us as human beings, in humanity. I wish to signify that. As grand marshal of the parade, I hope that is what folks see. That is the concept Bob continued on the committee he was on, and he continued it by way of his coordinating of the parade with the assist of his fraternity. I might wish to be that person who carries forth his concepts from him that we’re all God’s folks and that we ought to be handled with respect. I wish to say that that is why I do not thoughts being grand marshal.

Q: If you mirror on the work and lifetime of Dr. King, and this annual celebration within the type of the San Diego parade, what involves thoughts for you?

A: I’m so glad that Dr. King got here ahead in my lifetime and that I may very well be part of saying he was so proper. I am a southerner and I do know that, rising up, there have been so many injustices. I knew that issues have been taking place to those who weren’t proper. We talked about it amongst ourselves, however we did not do something about it as a result of we knew that we did not have that assist. If I mentioned {that a} younger man over there slapped me simply because he needed to, or that he known as me the n-word, or cursed at me, I could not do something about it. I assume I might say one thing about it, however nothing would occur as a result of we did not have assist from the authorities. So many people have been fearful. That is simply the way in which that it occurred to you, so I am glad Dr. King got here on the time that he did as a result of he opened the door for us to precise ourselves and never be mistreated. That is what I take into consideration Dr. King. I am glad that he was an eloquent speaker who was considerate and had his personal thoughts that he expressed at any time when he felt prefer it, and no matter he mentioned got here out stunning and true.

What I like about Chollas View…

I like the neighborhood. First, as a result of we’ve about 4 or 5 households who began out on this road once we did, when the properties have been new in ’55 or ’56. Seeing those self same folks nonetheless right here and having fun with this neighborhood is without doubt one of the causes I find it irresistible. The opposite is its comfort. You could possibly zip downtown in 5 minutes, to Tijuana in quarter-hour, to the airport in 10 to fifteen minutes. It is such a handy location and I preferred that about my neighborhood.

Q: What have been a few of your early desires or targets for San Diego, when it comes to justice and equality?

A: One of many issues we felt it wanted was a YMCA, so we labored with a bunch on establishing a constructing and getting a brand new govt director. At the moment, we have been speaking about injustices in San Diego and we felt that we might speak about it as a result of we had legal guidelines and individuals who supported the legal guidelines of town. At the moment, the US Grant was not permitting African People into their bar and restaurant, so we labored on that. We joined the NAACP, which was talking out, and the prevailing sentiment was to alter San Diego’s perspective of the African American citizen. That was earlier than Dr. King, however by some means, we knew that we had to assist make a change and that is why we joined these organizations. We mentioned we have started working in the direction of eliminating these injustices.

Q: In what methods do you assume San Diego nonetheless has room to develop, and the way would you wish to see that occur?

A: I’d say that San Diego has created an space, a neighborhood for the minority citizen, and there is nothing unsuitable with that so long as the companies are there. I am pondering, particularly, of southeast [San Diego neighborhood]. Folks needed us to alter the title to “southeastern” and to cease saying “southeast” as a result of they felt it was damaging. Contractors did not wish to come to southeast, they did not wish to construct, they did not wish to purchase, they did not wish to put companies right here. It is a fantastic space, that is what I wish to say. It’s, however the companies usually are not right here and San Diego nonetheless has not put them right here. Now, once we first got here, I wish to say there have been 5 grocery retailer chains on this neighborhood. We had a movie show. San Diego can develop by highlighting our neighborhood and never leaving it wanting, not leaving it underserved. Once we received right here, Clairemont was simply starting to construct properties. There was nothing on the market, and now that it is grown, every part is on the market. In Lemon Grove and another small communities, they’ve companies which might be wanting within the southeast San Diego space, so San Diego can develop that means. It could enlarge its deal with growing the Fourth District space [San Diego Council District 4].

Q: What are you wanting ahead to with Sunday’s parade?

A: I’m wanting ahead to my grandchildren being right here. Once they discovered that I used to be going to be the grand marshal, all of them began speaking and saying they’re coming. I am wanting ahead to seeing them and them being a part of this parade. They’ll say that their grandfather was one of many founders who continued it for 38 years, that their grandmother did the pageant and she or he continued that for 26 years. It is one thing that I need our grandchildren to be happy with wherever they go, wherever they land [they live in Sacramento; San Francisco; Columbus, Ohio; Atlanta, Ga.; and Baltimore, Md.]. Then, they’ll use their time and vitality to make their very own city, metropolis, no matter it is perhaps, a greater place. They will know it may well occur as a result of their grandparents have been very concerned within the metropolis of San Diego’s neighborhood.

Q: What’s the finest recommendation you have ever acquired?

A: Hold doing what you are doing, however you may’t simply do issues alone. You need different folks to come back together with you, however do not cease.

Q: What’s one factor folks could be shocked to search out out about you?

A: They might be shocked to search out out that we’ve payments like they do [laughing].

Q: Please describe your perfect San Diego weekend.

A: An excellent San Diego weekend could be going to the theater. I take pleasure in and respect theater a lot. For the longest time, when Bob was alive, we had opera tickets and loved that on Friday nights. We have met associates who’ve had the identical seats for an extended, very long time. I just like the Broadway reveals, too. Having dinner after which going to the theater.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *