Photo: Frank Abarca
by Mia Vigil
On January 21st, 2013 an estimated 700 people came out and marched from MLK Jr. Way to the County Fairgrounds in Merced. This is how Merced celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day—with songs, dances and speeches dedicated to the late Civil Rights activist. On this beautiful day there was nothing but smiles, laughter and friendly hellos during the 1.7-mile walk.
“You get to meet different people from different backgrounds and ethnicities, and your advantage is the more African-Americans, Hispanics, Blacks and Caucasians that you are blessed to meet through the years, it’s due to Dr. King that we get to do that,” says local resident Jerome Raspberry Jr.
These locals and many more were absolutely honored to participate in this walk and it really does open doors to meeting more people living in the city of Merced. By all of the community joining together and marching, this ties in to Dr. King’s famous dream of having equality amongst all races and coexisting peacefully.
“One of the first public activities that I ever got involved in was when I went out and collected signatures with a lot of other folks in this community to get J St. renamed to MLK Jr. Way,” says Assemblyman Adam Gray. “That experience was shared with Charlie Huddleston, who literally walked with me from house to house collecting signatures. So coming to this celebration every year is special for me in that personal way.”
Something that simple in times like these, were only made possible due to great effort and hardships from a leader who inspired change. He sacrificed his life, along with others, and the fight has still continued on. In great honor of who we remember each year, by all communities all over the county, we march for the freedom we have thanks to Dr. King.