Martin Luther King Jr. March raises public awareness of social issues


Anencia Johnson is a born Chico Native who has been going to school in Chico since she was a child. She has a degree from CSU Chico. Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

The 37th annual Martin Luther King Jr. March took place Sunday. The tradition was originally started by an African American group of women called “Essence Women” who have since passed the event to different local groups. The event took place in the Chico City Plaza and Trinity United Methodist Church.

Group activities, including dances from local schools and spoken word performances from community members, started at 2:30 p.m. at the church. The march downtown began at 3:30 p.m. and was led by children holding a sign that said, “End the long night of poverty and despair.”

After the march, free food was provided at the church and keynote speakers including Greg Shafer and Tyrell “Rex” Bell addressed the crowd. There were also musical performances by Cara Laumba, Celebration Choir, Dominique Silva Sores, Nehemiah Williams and Loretta Dickerson.

All of the activities were centered around the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and awareness of activism in the modern day.

“Dr. King’s legacy is so amazing, he started so much awareness of the importance of justice—of the importance of nonviolence,” said Elma Alma, the coordinator for the event.

This year, the focus was on the poor people’s campaign.

“There’s a new campaign being led by Reverend William Barber,” Alma said. “Their goal is to reawaken the poor people’s campaign Dr. King started 51 years ago.”

Multiple organizations participated in the event to help spread awareness of other issues, such as Anecia Johnson, founder, CEO and representation of Amma Culture-Education, Sciences and Arts.

“The primary of objective of the organization is to be a resource for educators and students; to enhance the knowledge and awareness of the depth of contributions of people of African heritage,”Johnson said.

Organization Chico Area Interfaith Council also participated.

“This is the second year that we’ve been here,” said Jesse Kearns, vice president of the Chico Area Interfaith Council. “It’s important for us as the Interfaith Council to be involved in community events because we think that our message of unity, our message of being able to share common ground no matter what our faith tradition is (is important). It’s important to get that message into the community and we take every opportunity we can.”

Kristina Carter (Right) and Jesse Kearns (Left)
President Kristina Carter and Vice President Jesse Kearns near the Chico Area Interfaith Council table inside the church. Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

Julian Mendoza can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @theorion_news.