Martin Luther King Day has always been about bringing people together. Unfortunately the coronavirus had other plans.
For the second time in three years, the annual MLK March in Vallejo has been canceled – this time due to concerns with the Omicron edition. In the past the march would start at the Wells Fargo parking lot on Tennessee and Tuolumne Streets and continue to Rollingwood Drive, Georgia Street and then to Hogan Middle School.
“Well, we pushed it all the way through to the end of December before we made a decision,” Vallejo NAACP President Jimmy Jackson said. “But in the end, with this omicron virus, the school district was unwilling to open Hogan High Middle School, where we usually meet. We didn’t even get a permit to walk through the city of Vallejo.
“I’m upset about it, because we’re missing out on an opportunity to help bring people together again,” Jackson continued. “I love how on this day people from all communities come together and exchange treats from their different communities. Citizens are able to see public officials and congressmen like Mike Thompson. It’s a working day.”
King was a distinguished American Baptist minister and activist who became a leader in the American civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. King’s goal was to advance civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, inspired by his own Christian beliefs and nonviolent activism. of Mahatma Gandhi.
King participated in and led the march for African Americans’ right to vote, segregation, labor rights and other basic civil rights. He is known for many things, including the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and later becoming the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Although King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, his legacy continues.
“MLK was very much a person who wanted people to come together,” Jackson said. “MLK believed that we were all Americans. Not white Americans or black Americans, but Americans. They had so many philosophies, but their main and ultimate goal was unity.”
Although the march has been cancelled, there are other ways to celebrate the life of the king in Vallejo on January 17. Other activities are planned that day including a community event in the community garden of Kyles Temple African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church at the corner of Sonoma Boulevard and Illinois Street.
According to Vallejo NAACP youth director, Pat Hunter, the community garden will feature youth art projects, vaccination shots and vendors. Organized for Political Action Black Women (BWOPA) will host the event, while other organizations such as Touro University, the African American Coalition, the Oakland/Bay Area Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and others will educate on site. On the importance of community and MLK.
“The day is about unity in the community, so what better place for these activities than a community garden,” Hunter said. “There will be many organizations and we will give vegetables.”
Deborah Dixon, president of the Solano/Napa chapter of the BWOPA, is also anticipating the event.
“I’m really helping a lot of people get vaccinated,” Dixon said. “I want to present this information to as many people as I want it to be in March 2023. I have lived in Vallejo for 72 years and this is one of my favorite events.”
Jackson agreed that events in the community garden would be important.
“Our biggest focus is getting the youth to know about MLK,” Jackson said. “It is very important that children learn about him early and realize that we are all equal.”