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Santa Barbara Honors Martin Luther King Jr. on Day of Obama Inauguration

Local leaders and residents commemorate the holiday with a march along State Street and a program at the Arlington Theatre

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery of Martin Luther King Jr. Day festivities.]

A little more than an hour after President Barack Obama was sworn in for his second term of office Monday morning, hundreds of people flooded State Street in Santa Barbara to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and both leaders were on the minds of many during the local festivities.

President Obama was sworn into office Monday using Martin Luther King Jr.’s Bible, a fact noted by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson during a program at the Arlington Theatre.

“This is a day that we really shouldn’t undersell,” she said, reminding the audience of the progression of civil rights since MLK’s day, but also said there is more work to do.

Monday’s festivities celebrating King and his accomplishments marked the seventh year of annual events sponsored by the Santa Barbara Martin Luther King Jr. Day Steering Committee.

This year’s theme was “50 Years: Carrying On the Dream” and brought out a host of speakers, musicians and artists to pay homage to the slain civil rights leader and his vision for equal rights.

“A glimpse of that dream has been taking place today,” said the Rev. Hillary Chrisley, who welcomed the audience.

The program’s central speaker came from not one person, but from seven pastors who took the stage. The men are part of a group that began five years ago to promote racial reconciliation in the church and have been meeting since then to discuss.

The pastors are white and black, and said they began to have honest discussions with each other about race in order to address racism in Santa Barbara.

“Since heaven isn’t segregated, why should we be?” asked Pastor Louis Watkins, one member of the group.

Along with Jackson, a host of other public officials also took the stage, including Santa Barbara City Councilmen Grant House and Dale Francisco, Goleta Mayor Roger Aceves, Assemblyman Das Williams and Santa Barbara County Supervisor Janet Wolf.

House spoke on behalf of Mayor Helene Schneider, who was not present because she was in Washington, D.C., for the presidential inauguration.

Wolf said she had been listening to Obama’s speech before attending Monday’s events in Santa Barbara, and encouraged the community to move forward in spite of the challenges the county faces.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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