Forty years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Santa Barbarans will take to the streets on January 21st to honor his legacy and call attention to issues of contemporary racism.
For the past six months, local community groups like The Interfaith community, The Brotherhood of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara African Heritage Film Series, and the American Association of Retired Persons have planned a series of events including marches, rallies and performances which raise and respond to the question, “Forty years later, are we still living the dream?”
The day is set to begin at 9:00 AM with group activities at Santa Barbara High School, a march to Santa Barbara Junior High School at 10:00 AM, and a culminating historical and musical celebration at the Marjorie Luke Theater at 11:00 AM, where UCSB’s Gospel Choir will perform. Additionally, four children essay contest winners will read their essays and poems in front of the crowd.
About 500-600 people are expected to partake in the festivities, which have been from varying ages and religious backgrounds.
“The goal is to bring people together to acknowledge Dr. King’s works and efforts,” said Willie Shaw, an event chair-person and member of The Brotherhood of Santa Barbara. “It’s not just a holiday.”
Shaw said this year’s festivities are a first for Santa Barbara, and in the past residents have traveled to Ventura and Oxnard to attend MLK Jr. Day celebrations. “The community interest is much stronger,” he said. “We want people to know that they don’t have to leave Santa Barbara to take part in celebrating Dr. King’s birthday.”
Shaw encourages all residents to join in the celebrations. “Recognize that this an opportunity once a year to show support with others and acknowledge Dr. King.”