In commenting on our Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Rev. Wesley Crawford Sr. meant well when he said, "In Bakersfield, it's kind of hard. We don't have one elected official that's African American. We don't have one school named after one of the greatest men in history.
The fact is we are blessed to have at least two African American elected officials in Bakersfield, Dr. Fred L. Haynes, Trustee for the Bakersfield City School District and Keith Wolaridge, Trustee for the Panama-Buena School District.
Yes, Bakersfield does not have a school named after Dr. King but the Bakersfield City School District does have two schools named after another great African-American, Rafer L. Johnson (Rafer Johnson Community Day Middle School and Rafer L. Johnson Children's Center, a Special Education School). For years, Johnson has spoken at the annual Rafer Johnson Day event at the Children's Center.
Rafer Johnson was a former decathlete and 1960 Summer Olympics gold medalist In Rome. In 1968, helped tackle assassin Sirhan Sirhan moments after he fatally shot Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
Johnson became a film actor, Peace Corps volunteer, sportscaster and public servant. He was the driving force in creating the California Special Olympics.
Johnson is an alumnus of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
— Mark Salvaggio, Bakersfield