Despite rain, close to 100 people participated in the downtown walk 

PASO ROBLES—Close to 100 people gathered in the Paso Robles City Park on Monday, Jan. 17 at Noon to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a Unity Walk around the downtown area.

This year’s theme was ‘To Bridge That Which Divides Us—The Power of Kindness.’ The event was hosted by the City of Paso Robles, Paso Robles Diversity, and the Paso DEI Education Committee. Students from local schools created artwork celebrating the late MLK and were hung around the gazebo.

Despite a few surprising rain showers, the community gathered around the park gazebo and began the celebration by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance “to represent his faith that things could change in the system in which he was living in,” said PRHS graduate and Paso Robles Diversity Panel member, Niya Williams. 

Paso Robles City Councilman Fred Strong spoke about his work with MLK to pass an equal housing rights legislation in 1963. Unfortunately, the legislation was not passed by Congress. 

However, through the process, Strong spoke with MLK over the phone, “He was always polite, he was never angry, but he was always firm, and he was also very principled. He believed in our philosophy and in our beliefs.”

Following Councilman Strong was Paso Robles Joint Unified School District Superintendent Curt Dubost, “I so love this community and want it to heal and come together as I do our Nation. It’s so important to come together at a time like this with the theme ‘To Bridge That Which Divides Us’ and under the teachings of Martin Luther King.”

Reverend Ken Parish let the community in prayer, followed by keynote speaker Dr. Denise Isom, who teaches about Black identity and education at Cal Poly. She spoke on Black history, and the importance of MLK.

Dr. Isom then recited a quote from Robert Fulghum’s ‘It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It,’ “I am not the light or the source of light. But light, truth, understanding, knowledge is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it. “I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world, into the dark places in the hearts of men, and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life.” 

The National Anthem was then sung by Lenora Costa and Earl Clark. Then the rain let up just in time for the community walk to commence around downtown. Walkers wore signs inspired by MLK. 

“I’m really happy with the turnout,” said Williams of their first Unity Walk in the Paso Robles City Park.

For more information on the Paso Robles Diversity Panel, visit Paso Diversity.