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What Martin Luther King Day means for people in Kern County

Motown releases Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' speech as a digital single
Posted at 4:09 PM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-18 10:33:59-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was more than just a minister, he was a civil rights activist that changed the course of United States history in his fight for equality.

That’s why on Martin Luther King Day, the entire nation pauses to honor him.

“He dreamed that his four children, one day would live in a nation, where they would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” said Michael T. Bowers, Director of Public Relations & Business Development.

Martin Luther King Jr, a name that holds so much weight not only for speeches like ‘I have a dream’, but for actions like the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the March on Washington, and more.

President and CEO of the Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce, Nick Hill said King fought for equality for all people: “The legacy of doctor king was equality for everyone, not because your black, white, brown or whatever, its equality for everyone.”

To honor him in unity, several Kern County organizations came together for a community breakfast.

Arleana Waller, Founder of ShePower and one of the recipients of the Dr. King Lifetime Achievement Award, said King is responsible for how we live today.

“If we look at what Dr. King has done for the world, whether your black, white, brown, yellow, green, he is the man that is responsible for the lively hood in which we all live, so I think it only makes sense for all of us to come together in unity and honor a man, who literally has changed our lives.”

Both Patrick Jackson, President of the Bakersfield NAACP Chapter, and Waller said King’s legacy must live on, but it’s up to the community to make that possible.

“Dr. King’s legacy has to continue, and it has to continue with all of us with action, and if each one of us taking action, then we will have a better tomorrow,” said Jackson.

“I want to make a call to action the African American community, to step up, to get engaged to get involved in a way that you never have. It is time for real change, and change is going to come when we are relentless and apologetic and intentional about being there, asking the right questions and being consistently serving and doing,” said Waller.

People also gathered both in-person and virtually to provide service for the community, as MLK Day is also the only federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service.