Exterior of the African American Community Services Agency building in San Jose
The African American Community Service Agency is located in San Jose and works to uplift and support marginalized people in the community. File photo.

In celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, the African American Community Service Agency in San Jose aims to connect residents with educational and supportive services.

The agency is hosting its Martin Luther King, Jr. annual luncheon today, to highlight existing problems, celebrate successes and honor the Black community’s history and culture. Beyond the luncheon, the agency provides a variety of services with the goal of uplifting and supporting marginalized peoples.

Jeremiah Lineberger, who co-chairs the Martin Luther King, Jr. luncheon, said the agency’s events are especially important in unifying the overarching Silicon Valley community. They inform more people about the agency’s existence, which means people will learn about the programs and services available and, if needed, can access them. The luncheon is hosted at San Jose State University’s Student Union Ballroom and Lineberger said the event’s 600 seats are sold out.

“We hope that us bringing the luncheon to (San Jose State University) can help us bring more students to our community center,” Lineberger told San José Spotlight.

The agency’s career development opportunities are important for students to learn about, Lineberger said, especially high schoolers transitioning to college and college students who could get support as they look for jobs in Silicon Valley’s competitive market. Lineberger also highlighted the agency’s science, technology, art and math program for children as another resource residents can access.

The agency’s Family Resource Center provides social services, such as parenting workshops. Amber Mopress is a community worker in the center, and she said the resources provided by the agency ultimately build people up toward self-efficiency by supporting underserved residents.

“There is no cookie cutter solution for support services and advocacy. Everything looks different, people’s needs are different,” Mopress told San José Spotlight.

Recent projects underscoring challenges faced by Silicon Valley’s Black population have shown systemic disparities in the region, from employment to housing. While African American residents are only about 3% of Santa Clara County’s population, they make up a disproportionate 18% of the county’s homeless population. Local leaders say Black residents have been leaving since the 1960s.

The African American Community Service Agency’s goals are to uplift and empower local Black residents, as well as to unite with other communities in the region, Mopress said. She added that the various programs and advocacy initiatives provided by the agency all work toward increasing access to resources, including the agency occasionally operating as a voting center.

“The goal is for us to be one band, one sound,” Mopress said. “However, that is not the way that society has brought us up and so with that, we try to create equity in our community.”

On top of existing programs, the agency is also working on building the Silicon Valley African American Cultural Center, slated to open in 2027. More updates on the center’s construction will be given at the luncheon, as well as other announcements about the agency.

“The biggest impact of the programs and the events is just bringing the community together, and when you bring the community together, you can just see the (beauty) that we have in the world,” Lineberger said.

Contact B. Sakura Cannestra at [email protected] or @SakuCannestra on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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