Humboldt Celebrates MLK Day

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“All we need… all that matters is our commitment to each other and the commitments we form with each other right now.”

These were some of the opening words spoken by Mr. Briggs, the Kings Ambassador for HCBMAA’s MLK Day event, this morning.

January 16th, also known as MLK day, is a civil holiday honoring the legacy of the late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Along with other important holidays such as Juneteenth and the recently passed Kwanzaa, MLK Day is not only a day of remembrance but a day of celebration and liberation for the black community all across the United States.

Our local HC Black Music and Arts Association hosted this year’s largest celebration within the county at the Arcata Community Center. The event highlighted dozens of local black leaders including Dr. Kintay Johnson, the director for College of the Redwoods’ Multicultural Center and new President of the NAACP in Eureka.

“Since 1952, behind here, behind the Redwood Curtain,” Johnson said, during his speech on stage. “This organization has been here fighting on behalf of people of color in our community. For educational rights, civil liberties, economics rights, [and] health.”

As Dr. Johnson said, the NAACP of Eureka has existed since 1952 when discrimination in local media pushed people towards change. Its longest standing president A.J Powell served for over 25 of those years and was present at the event.

“And every time we notice that things go backwards,” Powell said. “There’s an ebb and flow. Sometimes forward [sometimes backwards], but as Dr. King said, ‘the arc of justice is always forward’.”

Vendors encircled the main floor and stage area, advertising a vast array of black owned businesses and other local advocacy organizations.

The cultural and historical celebration went on till 4pm this Monday and ended in an open community healing circle flourished with African drums and dancing. 

“What we know… according to the scriptures,” Briggs said. “Love never despairs… It never loses hope. It never gives up. It never rejoices in the harm or destruction of others. It seeks truth and so we come together today in this moment. We can convene our dream right now.”

This has been Matthew Taylor with Redwood News and Happy MLK Day.