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Martin Luther King Jr. Committee Plans Jan. 16 Celebration in Santa Barbara

Dance and music performances in De la Guerra Plaza will be followed by a free program at the Arlington Theatre

The Santa Barbara community will celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday on Jan. 16.

Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.

After a morning program of 17th century African-American dance and gospel song at 9 a.m. in De la Guerra Plaza, celebrants will march, sing and carry banners up State Street to the Arlington Theatre.

The 11 a.m. program “Retelling the Story — The Civil Rights Years” will feature Wallace Shepherd Sr., who knew King and protested with him in the March on Washington in 1963. High school students will ask questions about his experiences: “What was it like? Were you afraid? Did you think things would change?”

King inspired generations to dream. He said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” In 1964, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to King, the second black American to win the award; Ralph Bunch, the first. The Nobel Committee called King “the first in the western world to have shown that a struggle can be waged without violence.”

The struggle was never only about race for King. Film clips of King resonate today with our headlines. In his “I Have a Dream” speech he said, ”We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash the check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”

Young winners of our essay/prose contest will read their insights to the audience. A community choir and dancers will highlight the program. A complementary lunch will be provided afterward. In spite of the rain last year, about 1,200 people participated in the free day of events.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Committee of Santa Barbara is comprised of a diverse group of individuals who volunteer their time throughout the year in planning the celebration. Click here for more information.

The nonprofit organization appreciates all support. Make checks payable to MLK Jr. Committee of Santa Barbara and mail to MLK Jr. Committee of Santa Barbara, P.O. Box 475, Santa Barbara 93102.

Before the MLK Jr. holiday weekend, the Broadway hit Hairspray will be performed at the Lobero Theatre at 2 and 7 p.m. Jan. 12-13.

In the 1960s, in Baltimore, an unpopular teenager’s dream to dance on a televised top 10 teenage dance program becomes true. A sudden celebrity overnight, she uses her star power to officially integrate the show and broadcast the messages of King. Produced in partnership with Big Stage Productions and Santa Barbara Dance Arts, tickets are available at Lobero.com.

— Barbara Sachs represents the the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee of Santa Barbara.

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