Organizers and volunteers of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration and Unity March will provide this year’s participants with the opportunity to help push to rename Fifth St. in Marysville after the Civil Rights legend.
“I just feel it’s most appropriate to honor Dr. King in this way,” said John Nicoletti, a local activist and volunteer.
Nicoletti has been a part of the march on and off for some 20 years and said he spent a lot of time researching MLK. He said the work MLK did influenced California in many ways to help make it as diverse and prosperous as it is.
Nicoletti said in order for the street to officially be renamed, they must receive support from at least 60 percent of the businesses and residents who live in that jurisdiction. He said the upcoming march will include a general petition and a rally to help support the name change efforts.
“I hope this thing really catches fire,” Nicoletti said. “I hope every service club participates. It would be very interesting to meet the person who doesn’t respect, admire or think he’s deserving of this.”
Maria Chambers, the pastor of Emmanuel Family Worship Center and march coordinator, said she was all-in when Nicoletti reached out to the march committee for support of the name change. Chambers took over the march some four years ago after the founder, Lisa Harris, moved away.
“The march will be like a kick-off. I hope the whole community gets involved and that the youth show up this year because it’s up to them to keep the legacy alive,” Chambers said. “What he did wasn’t just for African-Americans. It was for America, period.”
The 21st annual march Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration and Unity March will be Jan. 18 at 10 a.m., beginning outside Ampla Health, 935 Market St., Yuba City. It will continue to Bethel AME Church, 115 Fifth St., Marysville. The march will include the Marysville High School drum line and a word from Rev. Gilbert V. Richards III, Bethel’s pastor. For more information call 301-8186.
Zenobia Brokenbrough, the choir director at Bethel, said she’s attended the unity march every year since it’s inception in the ‘90s. She said she moved to Yuba-Sutter from Louisiana in 1978 and has memories of MLK while he was alive and fighting for social justice.
“This march has special meaning to me because I remember the times. I went to all black schools. I was there when things were getting difficult. Segregation was a big deal,” Brokenbrough said. “I wanted to go to some of the marches MLK had then, but my grandmother said we might not make it out so I didn’t get to go. But I saw them. I was an adult when he was assassinated.”
Brokenbrough said she is driven to attend the march every year because she witnessed the start of MLK’s movement and is amazed at how his dream came to life. Brokenbrough is now a school teacher and said every all-black school she attended as a child and young adult is integrated now. She is amazed at the diversity of today’s classrooms.
“I think about the job MLK did and all of the marches he led. I feel proud to celebrate what he did at the Marysville march every year. We’re on an upward stem towards learning to accept one another just the way they are.”