Community organizations commemorate civil-rights leader
The Martin Luther King Jr. Committee of Santa Barbara honors Rev. Dr. King annually on the third Monday in January and the preceding weekend. This year, the committee is honoring him through a robust virtual program from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today, live-streamed on mlksb.org and the MLKCommitteeSB Facebook page.
The weekend usually begins with the lighting of UCSB’s Eternal Flame, a monument dedicated to MLK Jr. But this year, the committee chose to forego all in-person activities. A video montage of 2008-2020’s events will show the tradition.
Dr. Anna Everett and Rev. Richard A. Lawrence will speak during the program. Dr. Everett is an emeritus professor at UCSB, a recently elected SBCC trustee and a volunteer on the Santa Barbara County Commission for Women. She advocates for marginalized groups as a leader in many organizations.
Rev. Lawrence, of San Diego, is a retired United Methodist clergyman who seeks social justice in his ministry. He knew Dr. King personally as an advocate in the civil rights movement.
He led an interracial group of students from Chicago to Selma for the Selma-to-Montgomery march in 1965. When Dr. King visited Chicago, Rev. Lawrence helped him organize a demonstration.
He is a leader in dozens of organizations including Operation Breadbasket and Black United Funds in Chicago and New York City.
Performances from previous years will be featured, such as: the combined choirs of B’nai B’rith Choir and Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara Choir, directed by the late Ken Ryals, World Dance for Humanity, Dance Institute of Santa Barbara, Inner Light Gospel Choir and Coastal West Community Choir.
Students ages 6-18 participated in an essay and poetry competition held by MLKSB and Santa Barbara’s Anti-Defamation League. Schools from throughout the South Coast encourage students to enter.
A total of $1000 in cash scholarships are awarded across the categories. First-place winners will read their winning essay or poem during the MLK Jr. event today.
In first place for ages 6-12 in the essay category is “No More Silence” by Noah Slotnick-Lastrico, a 12-year-old student at La Colina Junior High.
“What Is Right” by Ashley Hansen, 12, La Colina, is second. “Martin Luther King, Jr.” by Lillian Richardson, 9, of Marymount School won third.
In honorable mention, “Why It Is Important To Speak Up” by James Steel, 6th-grade student at Foothill Elementary School.
The first-place winner in poetry for ages 6-12: “The Journey to Freedom” by Elena Beckman, 10, Knox School.
“This Is Us” by Zoe Rogers, 11, Peabody Charter School of SB, won second place. “When Happiness Goes Down” by Sam Kasting, 7, Roosevelt Elementary School, and “Say Their Names” by Jonah Archer, 5th grade, Foothill Elementary, tied for third.
The winning essay from ages 13-18 is “How Should One’s Morals Be Defined?” by Kamea Boucher, 12th-grade student at Carpinteria High School.
“The Importance of Speaking Up for Your Ideals” by Carolina Peace, 13, Marymount School, is second. “What Can Make You A Better Person?” by Hannia Hernandez, 12th grade, Carpinteria High School, won third place.
The first-place poem from ages 13-18 is “Betrayal, Silence” by Kundai Chikowero, 12th grade, Dos Pueblos High School.
In second is “Solidarity” by Sarah Dent, 10th grade, Dos Pueblos. “Our Voices Are Heard” by Miles Souza, 17, Carpinteria High School, won third.
Honorable mentions go to “I Am What I Am” by Fatima Lopez, 17, San Marcos High School; “Martin Luther King Was An Amazing Man” by Ember Reiter, 13, Marymount School; and “Rise Up” by Ravi Pandya, 13, 8th grade, Marymount School.
Over the weekend, a number of faith organizations honored Dr. King in sermons.
First United Methodist Church Santa Barbara preached a sermon around a quote by Dr. King describing when he decided to become a minister. The service’s postlude was “Happy Birthday” by Stevie Wonder — a song written to raise social awareness for Dr. King’s birthday.
FUMCSB, located at 305 E Anapamu St., is one of MLKSB’s sponsors.
“First United Methodist Church is very supportive of (MLKSB). Our leadership has been very supportive of the anti-racism kind movement that we have right now in our world, in our nation, and the demonstrations that have taken place and Black Lives Matter,” said Associate Pastor Alan Strout.
“So, we are very supportive of all that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day stands for, and so we’re happy to support it, as is the Clergy Association, which sends support to (MLKSB),” he said.
This Martin Luther King Jr. Day comes after a summer of protests against systemic racism and widespread calls for justice. MLKSB memorializes George Floyd, Breonn Taylor and more on its website.
Public school systems recognized Dr. King last week. Last Tuesday’s board meeting of the Santa Barbara Unified School District began with a quote by Dr. King, and clerk Wendy Sims-Moten brought attention to today’s program.
Last Friday, Cold Spring School students participated in an assembly dedicated to Dr. King.
“During the assembly, I explained to the students the reason why we don’t have school on Monday, which is to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King. Jr,” Dr. Amy Alzina, superintendent and principal of Cold Spring School said. “I then went on to highlight how he wanted the world to be a kinder place before sending the students off to dive deeper in their understanding of Martin Luther King, Jr. with their classroom teacher.”
A kindergarten class taught by Lisa Ishikawa created personalized t-shirts that said “I have a dream…” Students drew a picture and shared their dreams.
Kindergarten student Benjamin Bakey wrote on his shirt, “I have a dream that everyone’s heart grows.”
More students’ feelings will be presented during today’s event. The program will be available at mlksb.org/events/virtual-program/ at 11 a.m.