El Cerrito celebrates 35 years of the longest-running MLK Day march in the state

El Cerrito has been hosting a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration for 35 years, making it the longest continuously held MLK Day event in California. Even the pandemic couldn’t stop this beloved tradition.

Few events can bring the East Bay city together like this celebration does.

“It is crucial for cities, regardless of their size, to unite through peaceful protests and gatherings in order to foster a sense of unity within the community,” emphasized Eevelyn Janean Mitchell, former poet laureate of El Cerrito.

The annual march through El Cerrito on Monday marked another chapter in the long-standing protest. It serves as a tribute to the trailblazers of the early years who fought tirelessly for the recognition of MLK Day.

The city of El Cerrito took some time to officially acknowledge the holiday even after the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday was declared a national holiday in the 1980s.


Mitchell emphasized the significance of both smaller and larger cities in their ongoing efforts to support and foster the pursuit of dreams.

Patricia Durham, the current El Cerrito MLK celebration chairperson, expressed her joy in being able to keep the dream alive in the city of El Cerrito.

The weight of Dr. King’s words is deeply felt by the younger generation as they inherit the torch from the previous one in this community.

El Cerrito MLK celebration speaker Caden Cotton-Blake expressed his admiration for the organization and its program, highlighting their strong impact on civic drive and engagement.

Motivating fresh leaders to engage at a local level and prioritize the matters occurring within their neighborhoods and throughout the country.

Cotton-Blake expressed her enthusiasm for the incredible opportunity of community-building. She found it empowering that this initiative has been going strong for 35 years and continues to grow.

El Cerrito’s MLK celebration is a unifying event that brings the community together like no other. Although its origins may have been divisive, city leaders now recognize the power of this celebration to foster unity and promote positive change.

El Cerrito Police Chief Paul Keith expressed his delight in the annual occurrence of this event, which holds strong ties to the local community. He emphasized the sense of unity that it fosters among its participants.

Over the course of 35 years, the community has realized the impact it has in fostering unity among us all. However, there is still a pressing need to take further action in order to transform Dr. King’s words into tangible reality.

Mitchell expressed that if Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, he would likely acknowledge the progress made but would also recognize that there is still much work to be done. Mitchell believes that King would be proud of those who continue to strive towards fulfilling his dream.

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