Saturday, April 21 , 2018, 6:55 pm | Fair 70º


Local News

Santa Barbara Honors Martin Luther King Jr.

Hundreds of people sing and march along State Street to a rally at The Arlington Theatre in remembrance of the slain civil rights leader

As spirituals like “Wade in the Water” wafted skyward, hundreds of people milled down State Street on Monday to sing and rally in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., marking the 43rd year of his death.

Making their way to the Arlington Theatre, the crowd listened to an impressive lineup of musicians and speakers who reminded the audience just how far America has come — and has yet to go — toward racial equality.

The event’s keynote speaker, Dr. Gloria Willingham, attended Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas just three years after the “Little Rock Nine” became the first black students to integrate the school.

Willingham, now a Fulbright Scholar and senior vice president at Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, said she discovered as a freshman that just because black students were allowed at the high school for classes, it didn’t mean they could participate in school activities. Legalized segregation had extended its grip into all reaches of society in the South.

“Except for the servant-boss relationship, there were no other relationships (between blacks and whites),” Willingham said.

But everything in her life had a purpose, Willingham said, adding that some of the spirituals sung throughout Monday’s program, such as “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired,” helped steel her resolve while walking down the halls of her high school.

“It’s not enough to simply listen to the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” she said. “We must find ourselves in those words.”

In addition to the moving music, dance and video tributes, the event, sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee of Santa Barbara, included a host of local political speakers.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, spoke about the importance of King’s message — and approach — that relied on nonviolence. That approach is particularly poignant for Capps as she prepares to go back to Washington, D.C., after a weeklong hiatus in honor of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who critically injured in the Jan. 8 shootings in Tucson, Ariz. 

“That tragedy in Arizona seemed to reverberate across the country,” Capps said. “It shakes our sense of decency and our sense of security.

“Sometimes we wonder, ‘Have we made any progress?’ We want to remember that, even in the face of unspeakable atrocity, Dr. King refused to treat aggression with further hostility. ... He didn’t buckle, and he didn’t give in.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >