Members of the Imperial Valley Social Justice Committee, Imperial Valley Black Lives Matter and other community members and organization representations gathered on the steps of the Imperial County Courthouse on Saturday, Jan. 16, to celebrate the memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Various speeches recorded that day, including a freedom march that preceded the courthouse event were edited together into a virtual celebration of King release on Monday, Jan. 18, the observance of a federal holiday in King’s honor. | CAMILO GARCIA JR. PHOTO

MLK Day: Local ‘Got to Be Better’ Celebration Goes Virtual

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On this holiday honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the MLK Committee and the Imperial Valley Social Justice Committee, due to COVID-19 restrictions, is honoring King’s memory through a virtual celebration that was partly pre-recorded over the weekend and uploaded online early Monday, Jan. 18.

Imperial Valley Social Justice Committee co-chair and MLK Jr. Committee member Marlene Thomas (right, foreground) marches alongside various community members during a procession and freedom march from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sports Pavilion on Adams Avenue and Eighth Street in El Centro, to the steps of the Imperial County Courthouse on Main Street, on Saturday, Jan. 16. | CAMILO GARCIA JR. PHOTO

The virtual celebration, themed “Got to Be Better,” was posted on the MLK Committee’s YouTube page.

The 45-minute-plus video celebration includes elements filmed and edited from Saturday, Jan. 16, in which the Imperial Valley Black Lives Matter organization and the Social Justice Committee conducted a freedom march from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sports Pavilion on Adams Avenue and Eighth Street in El Centro, to the steps of the Imperial County Courthouse on Main Street.

From there, various speeches were made at the steps of the courthouse by numerous members of the community, including Hilton Smith of Imperial Valley Black Lives Matter and San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus Associate Dean Mark Wheeler, among others.

Saturday’s event — and the video celebration — culminated with a rousing reading of excerpts of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by Social Justice Committee co-chair and Calexico City Council member Raul Ureña, who further personalized the speech by relating to the work done at the local level, name-checking the efforts of local organizations from across the Valley.

See both a photo gallery from Saturday’s events and the virtual celebration below.

MLK Jr. Committee’s 2021 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.
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