Fresno leaders celebrate life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. virtually

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Each third Monday of January, Americans celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, a civil rights icon who inspired millions and shifted the trajectory of American history.

This year's annual commemoration ceremony in Fresno went virtual to help stop the spread of coronavirus, but the tradition of honoring his legacy continues.

Community leaders shared speeches, songs, and presented awards to Yolanda Randles, Dr. Rais Vohra, and Congressman Jim Costa for exemplifying Dr. King's spirit of service.

This year's event also takes on a deeper meaning after a national outcry against racism and police brutality.

"These protests were symptomatic of a much deeper problem in America," said Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer. "Hidden biases, the issue of unaddressed slavery, and disparity in wealth, we have so much more work to do if we are to truly achieve Dr. King's dream."

Sabrina Kelley, the program's keynote speaker, says Dr. King inspired her to help underserved communities. Kelley is a foundation officer at Wells Fargo. Her work in the Central Valley centers on equitable community development and prioritizes opportunities to improve housing affordability, support small business development among ethnic minority groups.

"I listened to the recording documenting his life and service," Kelley Said. "I listened to his voice reverberate with hope. And, I knew that day, his leadership would influence my life and the work I'm called to do."

Event speakers are calling on residents to live out MLK's vision by being of service to the community.

In a remote speech, Congressman Jim Costa says, "I ask us to remember and commit the future in Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy and the teaching that he gave all of us, that coming together, we can make a better America."

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968 while supporting striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee.

If you missed the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Committee's commemoration ceremony, you can view it here.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.