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In this Jan. 16, 2017 file photo, Grace Temple Missionary Baptist Church Praise Dancers perform during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Lompoc. This year's event will be held Monday.

Len Wood, Staff

Members of the Lompoc community will once again join together Monday for a celebration of the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr.

This year’s festivities, dubbed “Realizing the Dream,” will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, which is the nationally recognized MLK Day holiday, at El Camino Community Center, 320 North J St. Several community leaders and groups are scheduled to speak and/or perform at the celebration, which will be the third since the Lompoc event was revived in 2016.

“It’s important that the legacy and the message of Martin Luther King Jr. continues to be shared with the community of Lompoc now and into the future,” said Pastor Ron Wiley, who helped restart the celebration after Lompoc went without a ceremony in 2015. “We hope that our community can come together and celebrate his impact on the world.”

Wiley, the pastor at Lompoc’s Grace Temple Baptist Church, teamed up with Pastor Bill Johnson, of St. Philip AME Church in Santa Maria, in late 2015 to bring back an MLK Day event after there was none in the city that year following the dissolution of Club Arcturus, which had previously put on the ceremonies.

Ahead of last year’s ceremony, a committee of community members was formed to organize and expand the event at El Camino Community Center, which served as host site for the first time in 2017.

The entertainment scheduled for this year includes dance routines by Lompoc Folklorico, The Alley Project, the American Indian Education Project of Santa Barbara County Dance, as well as performances from Grace Temple’s choir, praise dancers and puppet ministry.

Other city officials and various community groups, including the Lompoc Police and Fire departments and the Lompoc Family YMCA, are expected to be in attendance. Confirmed speakers include Jamie Patton, the vice president of student affairs at Cal Poly, along with Lompoc Mayor Bob Lingl, Lompoc Police Chief Pat Walsh, Pastor Bill Johnson and Pastor Ruben Tamayo.

In addition to the entertainment and speakers, the event will also feature display tables, food booths and a tribute to local African-American-owned businesses.

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The celebration was funded in part by a grant from the Fund for Santa Barbara. The organizing committee also raised funds with raffles that will conclude during Monday’s event.

Among the items being raffled are a 55-inch TV ($5 for a ticket or $12 for three tickets), a gift basket valued at more than $400 ($2 per ticket; $5 for three tickets) and an Atari gaming system ($1 for two tickets; $5 for 12 tickets). The winners will be announced at the end of the celebration.

Tommy Speidel, a member of the organizing committee, summed up the event’s purpose by explaining that it is “a multicultural, multiracial celebration that provides a one-day program and activities to honor and keep [King’s] dream of social and economic” justice alive.

Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.

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