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16th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Celebration

January 16 @ 9:00 am - 12:30 pm

The morning program with its usual line-up of activities will begin at 9:00am at De La Plaza with an opening prayer, followed by music, school winning Essay/Poetry readings and join the beat with the World Dance for Humanity Group at the end of the program to get your body stimulated for the march at 10 am from de la Guerra Plaza to the Arlington Theatre where the 90-minute program will begin at 11 am.

Keynote Speaker is Dr. Daina (say it DI-nah) Berry. She is the Michael Douglas Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is a scholar of the enslaved and Black Women’s History and the award-winning author/editor of six books including the recent, A Black Women’s History of the United States.

(Santa Barbara, CA) The Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee of Santa Barbara (MLKSB) presents for the 16th year, a free program honoring the great Dr. King and all he stood for, to the community on the national holiday Monday, January 16. “The synergy of this being the 16th annual celebration and that it falls on the 16th day, is one of some provenance after two-years in the virtual world, 2023 marks the return of the live event. We’re very excited to be able to share the programs about Dr. King again with our community,” said Board President Eo Brown. This year’s theme is pulled from a speech Dr. King made in 1957 in Montgomery, Alabama, and chosen carefully by the board of MLKSB, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” Words which continue to resonate and remind us of such an important part of our humanity – helping others.
On Monday, the MLK Jr. Holiday, our Morning Program begins at de la Guerra Plaza at 9AM with an opening prayer, followed by music, and some of the top students awarded for their Essay & Poetry entries reading their work. Join the beat with the World Dance for Humanity group at the end of the program to get your body stimulated for the Unity March at 10AM up State Street to the Arlington. Greeting the marchers in the foyer of the theatre will be the David Gorospe Jazz group. On stage at the Arlington, the 90-minute presentation includes our political representatives from hometown Mayor Randy Rowse to the team in Washington, D.C. Congressman Salud Carbajal and State Senator Monique Limon. Keynote Speaker this year is Dr. Daina (pronounced Di-Nah) Ramey Berry, who is the Michael Douglas Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts at UCSB. Dr. Berry will speak on servant leadership and the impact of Dr. King’s legacy.
Both programs will include the always inspiring essays and poems read in person from the top awardees of the MLKSB Essay and Poetry Awards Program (EPAP), “It is hoped the chosen theme – “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” – from a speech by Dr. King will inspire students to write about creative ways to give support to others, especially in times of strife,” said Brown who is acting chair, along with support from Toni Schultheis, Co-Chair. Since the organization had to go all viral, gratitude must go to Delvis Stoute, Program Application Developer, who set up an efficient system for submitting entries online. More than a dozen essay and poetry pieces were chosen by the judges from student entries coming in from Santa Barbara, Goleta and Isla Vista, up to Lompoc and Santa Ynez Valley, down to Carpinteria, Summerland and Montecito. Submissions followed MLKSB theme with entrants in two age groups: six to 12 and 13 to 18. The top three awardees in each age group receive a cash prize as well as opportunities for training in public speaking, poise, appropriate dress and stage presence. One or more may also have a chance for speaking or reading their entries at other public events, or on the radio throughout the year. All past awardees are up on the MLKSB website here: to give you an idea of the depth these young people bring to the fore.
More MLKSB Weekend Programs are being planned and added starting on Friday, so stay tuned as they are confirmed and announced on the website and Facebook page. Sunday the MLKSB Committee encourages everyone to attend their place of worship. Our website lists the faith organizations in our community if you’d like to check out all the choices of places to pray. On Monday, be sure to join us for a celebration of the life and work of a man who really changed the world – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from 9am – 12:30pm. Please consider donating to the MLKSB Committee to keep these programs and outreach in place.
About the Poetry & Essay Submissions: Each year, MLKSB in partnership with Santa Barbara’s Anti-Defamation League sponsors an Essay and Poetry Competition open to students ages 6-12 and 13-18. Submissions are received from students throughout the South Coast. A total of $2,000 in cash scholarships is divided among the first three placed works in each age group. 1st place awardees read their work as a part of the MLKSB holiday event. See all of the 2022 awardees here:

Photo credit: Rod Rolle


January 16
9:00 am - 12:30 pm