Thousands march in Sacramento to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) — Thousands of people marched peacefully through the streets of Sacramento on Monday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The civil rights leaders was a firm advocate of nonviolence and was killed by an assassin's bullet almost 50 years ago.
Along the parade route on Monday, the marching band from John F. Kennedy High School drummed out a message of standing up for King's dream of racial equality.
Among those marching was state Rep. Dr. Ami Bera, of Elk Grove.
"He would be 89 today if he was still with us," Bera said of King. "It's about continuing to fight for that dream."
That dream includes justice for all and equal opportunity for everyone. That's why Sylvia Jones was marching on Monday, displaying her banner of King flanked by John and Robert Kennedy.
"These gentlemen did bring life to us," Jones said. "Let's bring it back."
Monday's celebration of King had significant political overtones. Just one year ago, Barack Obama was still president, but now it's Donald Trump in the White House.
Many of the marchers said the mood of the country has changed.
"Just the climate overall," said Karrin West. "The presidency has changed. It's not about unity anymore."
"People are galvanized. They want to get more involved in civic affairs and voting, whether it's the women's march or the Dr. King march. You know, I think you will see a lot more engagement at the ballot box," Sacramento Assemblyman Kevin McCarty said.
Those sentiments were echoed by Elk Grove Assemblyman Jim Cooper. "Folks are upset," he said. "And you vote at the ballot to effect change.''
Marcher Kristina West said, "I believe that under Barack Obama people had a belief that we would be together. The nation would stand strong, and since the change of presidency, I feel that President Trump has instilled an emotion of fear."
"There's more people out here now who want to be walking, as opposed to when Obama was here, because everybody realizes it's important to show your support," Jones said.
She was referring to support for voting - and being active politically - to make a difference in shaping the hearts and minds of the American people.
"In the wake of the president's recent comments, it's more important than ever that that we fight for a dream of justice for everyone," Bera said. He added that it is "a dream that regardless of what country you come from you're just as American as anyone else."
Honoring King on his birthday is a tradition now. For some, it's a celebration of his life. For others, it's a chance to keep his legacy alive in a very highly charged political climate.
King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968, when he was just 39 years old.