The Martin Luther King Jr. Committee of Santa Barbara will present its 14th annual observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 18.
Due to state and local health orders that restrict public gatherings, the committee has created a virtual program featuring ceremonial and civic presentations as well as inspirational messages from members of the community. Winners in the themed, annual essay and poetry contest also will read their work.
Each year, the committee, in partnership with Santa Barbara’s Anti-Defamation League, sponsors an essay and poetry competition open to students ages 6 to 18 from throughout the South Coast, including Carpinteria and the Santa Ynez Valley. A total of $1,000 in cash scholarships is awarded to contest winners.
This year’s event theme is a quote from King Jr.: “The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where they stand at times of challenge and controversy.”
Pulling from that theme, committee members will present a two-hour virtual program, livestreamed on mlksb.org and on the MLKCommitteeSB Facebook page, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 18.
Featured speakers include Anna Everett, an emeritus professor at UCSB who was recently elected to the Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees and who also serves on the Santa Barbara County Commission for Women, and Rev. Richard A. Lawrence, a retired United Methodist clergyman whose ministry is committed to social justice.
Lawrence, now a resident of San Diego, was active in the civil rights movement and knew King Jr. personally, according to the spokeswoman.
In 1965, Lawrence took an interracial group of students from Chicago to participate in the Selma to Montgomery march. Later, when King Jr. came to Chicago, Lawrence also helped him to organize an anti-discrimination demonstration there.
Lawrence has contributed leadership to dozens of community organizations that include Operation Breadbasket (PUSH), Black United Funds in Chicago and NYC.
The upcoming virtual program will include encore music and dance performances from previous years.
Among those being featured include 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 also will be showcased.
To join the event, visit mlksb.org
Lisa André covers lifestyles and local news for Santa Ynez Valley News and Lompoc Record.
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