February 23, 2023
Even though the event was unfortunately delayed, the 26th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity March and Black History Month celebration, organized by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee, was lively and full of spirited community members.
Hundreds of local residents gathered at the Amtrak Station in downtown Merced along with a wide variety of notable dignitaries, such as State Assemblywoman Esmerelda Soria, Merced Mayor Matthew Serratto, Merced NAACP Chapter President Allen Brooks, and more, to celebrate and support black history and the black community. Many of such community leaders took time to talk to and engage the public at the beginning of the event. The attendees then proceeded down Martin Luther King Jr. Way to the Merced Theatre, where food, music, shopping, as well as a lovely awards ceremony awaited them.
Joyce Dale, the parade coordinator, took the microphone and greeted the march participants. Merced City Councilwoman Bertha Perez was also there, and gave a short but fiery speech. “I want people to remember that we may not look like we are doing the right thing, but we are actually standing up for what’s right,” she said. “I am proudly a troublemaker.” Her counterpart, Councilman Jesse Ornelas then took the mic and spoke about the importance of activism and the best ways to go about it. Ornelas proceeded to speak about what he called “the prevalence and, unfortunate, protection of racism and racist groups in Merced,” and that all residents need to work together to fight racism.
The next speaker was Christian Santos, who was there as a representative of Congressman John Duarte. He thanked the community, with a special emphasis on organizers Tamara Cobb and Allen Brooks for their hard work on this event as well as their many other contributions to the community. Santos finished off with expressing his happiness seeing the work being done in our community and expressing his commitment to supporting it.
Following on microphone was NAACP President Allen Brooks. He gave a brief and heartwarming speech thanking the community for their attendance of the event and reflecting on the reasons that such events are so important. “We are paying homage to all of our ancestors that walked these streets,” he said passionately.
Read more at mercedcountytimes.com.
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