San Ramon remembers Dr. King at annual celebration

Speakers, performers pay tribute to late Civil Rights leader at open mic event


Courtesy of San Ramon Valley Diversity Coalition

Representatives from the San Ramon Valley Diversity Coalition and local government bodies gather to speak at the annual celebration of Dr. King.

“There is no better example than Martin Luther King Jr. who truly shows that age has no boundaries on what positive change we can make,” sophomore Shivali Pathak said as she reflected on her performance at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Open Mic Celebration last week.

The City of San Ramon celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 17 outside San Ramon City Hall. The annual event was held in partnership with the City of San Ramon, the Town of Danville, the San Ramon Diversity Coalition, and District 2 Supervisor Candace Anderson’s Office.

Performances included student speakers from California and Dougherty Valley high schools, local government representatives, and various community members.

“It really was a grassroots effort by community members who were involved in diversity initiatives,” California State Assembly Member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan said.

The San Ramon Diversity Coalition was the main organizer of this event.

“The San Ramon Diversity Coalition are members of a diverse community who have joined together to serve as a forum for constructive dialogue,” San Ramon Vice Mayor Sridar Verose said. “We wanted public office leaders as well as community members to be able to share their thoughts on how Dr. King’s work and his life affected their lives.” 

The first performance was a classical Sanskrit dance by Naina Shastri, founder of Ushanjali School of Dance in Pleasanton. Shastri said that the dance was about hope and equality.

Junior Dinari Baez gave a speech reflecting on Dr. King and his accomplishments. 

“Racism is deeply embedded in our society,” Baez said in an interview with The Californian. “We have to challenge our beliefs and processes to keep building the inclusive city and institutions that we and many descendents from other nations want.”

Baez said that even though Martin Luther King Jr. Day has been a federal holiday for three decades, some employers still don’t let their workers off from work. 

“I knew I had to go and represent on these issues because no one is going to speak for us but ourselves,” Baez said. “We exist today due to the strengths of our leaders and the unity of our communities. Dr. King helped desegregate us, including our institutions.”

Pathak performed an original song on her ukelele about hope under adversity.

Jenyth Jo Gearhart-Utchen, San Ramon’s current poet laureate, shared a poem reflecting on her visit to the Lorraine Motel in Tennessee, where Dr. King was assassinated in 1968.

Horace Gipson, a representative from the Diablo Black Men’s Group, also shared a speech about the importance of Martin Luther King in today’s world. The Diablo Black Men’s Group was founded in the mid 1990s and provides scholarships to young Black men in the community. 

Media partners for this event included Yo India Television, a mass media company that broadcasts on Comcast and Apple TV.

“I lived through the Martin Luther King marches and all,” San Ramon Mayor Dave Hudson said. ”We shouldn’t forget what we’ve achieved and where we’re going.” 

Hudson said that living through the time of Dr. King shaped him into the person he is today.

Danville Vice Mayor Robert Storer said that the event was a celebration of Dr. King and a product of overwhelming community support.

“It’s important to understand what his goals and dreams were, not just on this particular day, and follow that line of thinking,” Storer said.