Locals marched Monday morning to keep the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. alive, gathering in downtown Santa Barbara to consider all that the civil rights leader accomplished and what work remains to be done.
State Street filled with hundreds of voices and soulful songs to mark the federal holiday reserved out of respect for King, a minister and activist who sowed a legacy of peace, nonviolence and equality for all despite our differences.
Festivities to honor the iconic international figure kicked off at Del la Guerra Plaza, where a morning program and blessing from Chumash Indians preceded the annual Unity March to Arlington Theatre.
“Thank you” signs and pictures of King accompanied the stroll up State Street, which was organized by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee of Santa Barbara.
The group picked “Lift Every Voice” as this year’s theme, hoping to inspire everyone to mirror the good deeds of King.
After the spirited walk, marchers filed into the theater for the free program, which featured young winners of an essay and poetry contest, elected officials and a mass community choir.
“This is one of the greatest days there is,” said Second Baptist Church Pastor Wallace Shepherd, the event's master of ceremonies. “Give yourselves a hand for just being here.”
The event highlighted talented, musically inclined youths. Those in the audience silently swayed to songs, and some chimed in during the Black National Anthem, also titled “Lift Every Voice.”
Local leaders contemplated aloud the current state of racism in the country, where discrimination still was seemingly embedded in everyday culture.
Even 51 years after the historic March on Washington, when King recited his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, locals were still trying to live up to the legacy of the civil rights movement, according to Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.
“Have we achieved yet all the promises we made last year?” Capps asked. “I don’t think so.
“Each and every one of us has an opportunity to be a part of that change.”
Video by Justin Covington / Noozhawk