A choir from New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Santa Maria performs during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in Lompoc on Monday.
A choir from New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Santa Maria performs during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in Lompoc on Monday. Credit: Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo

Noting that many view the third Monday in January as “just a holiday,” speakers in Lompoc instead urged people to remember and fulfill Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, legacy and dream.

The  Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration Monday attracted more than 125 people to the Dick DeWees Community & Senior Center in Lompoc.

The program included youths and adults from the Lompoc and Santa Maria valleys presenting speeches, songs and dances to celebrate the civil rights leader.

Before the three-hour program, approximately 15 people participated in a march from Old Town Lompoc. 

“It’s a chance to unite as a community in solidarity, appreciation and reflection of how we are keeping Dr. King’s ideas alive,” said Gloria Montague, a member of the MLK Day Committee. “To make the promise of democracy real, you are in the right place today.”

King championed radical justice and equality, teaching the values of peace, respect and unity, Montague said. 

The Vandenberg Space Force Base Honor Guard delivers the colors before Rayhanah Johnson from Cabrillo High School sings the national anthem on Monday during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Lompoc.
The Vandenberg Space Force Base Honor Guard delivers the colors before Rayhanah Johnson from Cabrillo High School sings the national anthem on Monday during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Lompoc. Credit: Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo

“When we actively engage with those who are different from us, it enriches us, strengthens and helps us to move forward,” she said. 

The civil rights leader often asked what are we doing for others, Montague added. 

“We celebrate Dr. King’s birthday by uniting as a family and a community. As a day on, not a day off,” Montague said. “Dr. King’s remarks inspire and inform the many acts of service and community building that will be performed every day across Lompoc.

“Today we stand together — young and old, whomever we love, whatever our religion, whatever our skin color, whatever our nationalities. These acts embody our celebration of Dr. King and the alliance we forge or renew on this day.

The Vandenberg Space Force Base Honor Guard presents the colors during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Lompoc on Monday.
The Vandenberg Space Force Base Honor Guard presents the colors during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Lompoc on Monday. Credit: Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo

“Today we knit together the fabric of our community. As Dr. King said, people fail to get along because they don’t know each other. They don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other in positive ways.”

Other speakers included Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne and Third District county Supervisor Joan Hartmann, along with local pastors from Santa Maria and Lompoc.

Cabrillo High School junior Brynn Wiley said schools lack lessons on “Black history, which is American history.”

Her education on Black history and King’s life “has come from events like these and learning the truth and struggles of black history from my parents,” Wiley said.

“So this is disheartening because the climate now in this country is racially divisive,” she said. “It’s important to learn about our history so we can continue the movement Martin Luther King Jr. was leading.

Cabrillo HIgh School student Brynn Wiley speaks during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Lompoc on Monday.
Cabrillo HIgh School student Brynn Wiley speaks during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Lompoc on Monday. Credit: Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo

“Black history is the base of the Martin Luther King Jr. iceberg. It’s good to see the tip of the iceberg, but we still need to learn to remember everything below the surface because it’s important,” she said.

King’s work decades ago made it possible for her to speak at Monday’s event, she said. 

“I also hope that you will take the time to dig deeper into Black history, because there are too many of us who only know the tip of the iceberg,” Wiley added. 

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Janene Scully | Noozhawk North County Editor

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com.