Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is more than a federal holiday – it is a day to reflect on civil rights of the past and future.
Despite a morning rainstorm, over 200 Davis children, students, parents, city officials and community members filled into the cinema’s seats. At the Varsity Theatre on 616 Second St., the city celebrated a man who was killed for his beliefs over 40 years ago.
Many Davisites are still fighting for the equality King dreamed of in the height of the U.S. civil rights movements of the 1960s. There were several speeches and performances. The Yolo Freedom Singers performed at the end and led the march through downtown.
Davis High School Black Student Union member Skye Belveal said in a speech to the audience that King was her personal hero.
“He inspired me to try my hardest,” Belveal said.
Fellow BSU member and DHS student Dorothy Mittow said King’s ideals still give us something to work toward, even in 2010.
“The demons we meet today are more intangible,” Mittow said. “The City of Davis has an achievement gap. Why do black and Latino students still perform worse than white and Asian students?”
The celebration, hosted by Monette Perrin, included a conversation and award ceremony for civil activists and Davis couple Carolyn and Dean Cliver. The couple, celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, was an interracial couple in the 1950s in Indiana. The Clivers continued to fight for marriage equality.
“None of our four kids were raised with stereotypes,” Carolyn Cliver said.
Dr. Dean Cliver spoke about the recent passing of Proposition 8 and its similarities to racial civil rights.
“[Equality] wouldn’t have happened if we waited for the majority,” Cliver said. “This is an issue of tyranny of the majority.”
Rep. Lois Wolk, Rep. Mariko Yamada and Davis Mayor Ruth Asmundson presented the couple with awards.
After a video of King’s famous Lincoln memorial speech, the crowd hit the streets chanting songs and peaceful words in a downtown Davis march.
“We try to do something meaningful each year,” said Kelly Stachowicz, deputy city manager of Davis. “This year we focused close to home. We found people in our community who stand for things that MLK stood for.”
SASHA LEKACH can be reached at email@example.com.