Community comes together to honor Martin Luther King Jr. in Downtown Fresno

Tuesday, January 17, 2023
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The rain didn't stop hundreds from taking to the streets of downtown Fresno to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on this holiday.

Shoulder to shoulder stood local, state, and national community leaders from different backgrounds who came together to send one message--Unity.

Dubois Scott was one of the marchers Monday's MLK march.

"When the weather is beautiful we come together and it's raining and we are still coming together," Scott said.

Following the march was the 39th Annual Commemoration Program held at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in person for the first time since the pandemic.

Saint Rest Baptist Church's Pastor DJ Criner led the prayer and Purpose II Praise dancers performed.

Reza Nekumanesh with the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno led the invocation and Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church's Pastor Kevin Stafford led the tribute to Dr. King.

National recording artist and guest singer Darius Braxton performed 'We Shall Overcome' -- a phrase and song that became a rallying cry for the Civil Rights Movement.

"Back then, they spoke and sung songs of faith," Braxton said. "We know the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen. So, that's what it means to me."

California Black Freedom Fund Executive Director Marc Philpart was the keynote speaker. He highlighted the historic Black community within Central California and charged that same community with keeping MLK's dream alive.

"There's a very historic black community here. I think it's important to uplift and elevate as we face all the pressures that we are facing in our state around the economy and black erasure," Philpart said

'Let Freedom Ring With Dignity, Learning, Love and Justice' was the theme -- a message echoed loudly throughout the entire weekend of events.

MLK Unity Committee Program Co-Chair Eric Payne said the work is not done.

"We hope that people will walk away with a renewed joy and renewed spirit to continue to fight for equity and justice in our community."

The event ended with passionate closing remarks from faith leader and community advocate LaTisha Harris.

Action News Anchor Brittany Jacob was the emcee for the event. ABC30 was a proud sponsor.

If you're interested in getting involved or being a part of next year's MLK unity committee, please visit the committee's Facebook Page.
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