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Davis

Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Davis hosts 30th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration

The celebration highlighted “peace activism”

 

By ALMA CULVERWELL city@theaggie.org 

 

On Monday, Jan. 15, the city of Davis and the Davis Human Relations Commission hosted their 30th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at the Veterans Memorial Theater. This year’s celebration highlighted “peace activism” and showcased support and solidarity in the face of adversity.  

Josh Chapman, who was recently sworn in as mayor, talked about the importance of the event and said that he’s proud that the Davis community fosters inclusion. 

“This annual event is a time to celebrate and honor the life and impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” Chapman said. “I am proud to live in a community that fosters equality and supports opportunities for inclusion. We reaffirm that Davis is a place where all people belong and are welcome and where violence and hate are not part of our basic fabric.”

The event included an exhibit put together by local high school students taking ethnic studies and hosted several speakers and performers highlighting themes of unity, activism and accountability. Some of the speakers present included Rev. Connie Simon from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, chair of the Multicultural Community Council Tessa Smith, dance group Afro Mini Vibes and Davis Poet Laureate Julia Levine.

The event also included a variety of media to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. including photos, live music and poetry readings.

Many speakers urged the audience to focus on solidarity and accountability in the upcoming year.

“I’m going to ask you this year to call people into those tough conversations,” Smith said. “If we lead with our humanity and lead our conversations centered around our shared values, we can come through this together and be stronger and stay in unity [against] those things we do agree with.” 

Simon similarly urged community members to consider their actions and to be the change they wish to see in their community.

“In many ways, it feels like it is already too late, but I promise you it isn’t,” Simon said. “As long as peace and justice-loving people draw breath, it is not too late for each of us to lean into the work of peace and justice. It’s not too late for each of us to do the work of love. It’s okay if you start simply, because we all have to start somewhere. […] If you want to see more love, then be love.”  

Doors opened for the event at 10 a.m., with speakers and performers starting at 10:30 a.m. The event also included tabling from local civil rights groups and concluded with a march from the Veterans Memorial Theatre to the Solidarity Space in Central Park at 12 p.m.

NJ Mvondo, chair of the Davis Human Relations Commission, acknowledged the work of current civil rights activists during the celebration.

“We can’t honor Dr. King’s principles as well as the civil rights movement without also acknowledging the work of everyone who today is uplifting his legacy by advocating for peace and solidarity, and that includes people in this room,” she said. “We are dealing with lots of conflicts right now, […] the number one answer to that is showing up in solidarity.” 

 

Written By: Alma Culverwell city@theaggie.org 

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