Following a morning program of 17th century African-American dance and gospel song at 9:00 a.m. in De la Guerra Plaza, celebrants will march, sing and carry banners up State Street to the Arlington Theatre.

The 11 o’clock program “Retelling the Story – The Civil Rights Years” will feature Wallace Shepherd, Sr., who knew Dr. King and protested with him in the March on Washington in 1963.  High school students will ask questions about his experiences: “What was it like? Were you afraid? Did you think things would change?”

Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired generations to dream. He said “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” In 1964, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Dr. King, the second black American to win the award; Ralph Bunch, the first. The Nobel Committee called Dr. King “the first in the western world to have shown that a struggle can be waged without violence.”

The struggle was never only about race for Dr. King. Film clips of King resonate today with our headlines. In his “I Have a Dream” speech he said, ”We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash the check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”

Young winners of our Essay/Prose contest will read their insights to the audience. A community choir and dancers will highlight the program. A complementary lunch will be provided afterwards. In spite of the rain last year about 1,200 people participated in the free day of events.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee of Santa Barbara is comprised of a diverse group of individuals who volunteer their time throughout the year in planning the celebration. More information about the event can be found on its website The non-profit organization appreciates all support; make checks payable to MLK, Jr. Committee of Santa Barbara and mail to MLK, Jr. Committee of Santa Barbara, PO Box 475, Santa Barbara CA, 93102.

Prior to the MLK, Jr. holiday weekend, the Broadway hit, “Hairspray” will be performed at the Lobero Theatre, on January 12th and 13th at 2 pm and 7 pm. In the 1960’s, in Baltimore, an unpopular teenager’s dream to dance on a televised top ten teenage dance program becomes true. A sudden celebrity overnight, she uses her star power to officially integrate the show and broadcast the messages of Dr. King. Produced in partnership with Big Stage Productions and SB Dance Arts, tickets are available at


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