Rising Above in Love, Truth and Goodness - Celebrating MLK Jr.


Activist and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. would have turned 94 years old on Sunday if he had not been assassinated. At the 5th annual Placer County MLK Jr. Day celebration which took place on Monday, Jan 16th, 2023 at Rocklin's Johnson-Springview Park, hundreds of locals came together to honor the legacy he left behind. The theme of this year's event was “Rising Above in Love, Truth, and Goodness”. It featured readings of Dr. King's speeches, a march, kid-friendly activities, poetry and poster contests with cash prizes for winners, and information booths. Food trucks, vendors, and DJ Madsticks' music were also present.

Placer County MLK Jr. MarchPhoto byHSS Sacramento

Twiana Armstrong, the co-founder of the Placer County MLK Jr. Day Celebration, stated that the county's lack of diversity and recognition of holidays and the contributions of various ethnic groups motivated her to start the annual event five years ago. “I adore my home. I'm here to change things”, Armstrong declared. "Join us to create connections and live a full life. It's an opportunity to socialize and get to know your neighbor", urged Armstrong. Seemychild hosts the MLK event, a nonprofit she founded to highlight the accomplishments of young people.

Shannon Catanella, another co-founder of the event, paid tribute to celebrate the life of Millee Livingston, the woman who brought MLK Day to Auburn. Millee passed away in Sept 2022. Shannon was recognized for her contribution to the success of the event.

MLK Jr. Day event cofounders - Twiana and ShannonPhoto byHSS Sacramento

MLK Jr. Day March was celebrated by over 300 Placer residents, students, elected officials, front-line employees, and volunteers! Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh was one of the many organizations that took part in the event this year. Many of their volunteers brought handmade posters of Dr. King and Mahatma Gandhi (who inspired Dr. King) and walked with them during the march. Many people complimented the posters and many people showed their curiosity about HSS. Furthermore, 2 of the youth recited Hindu prayers for peace and unity and their meaning with the audience representing Dharmic culture. Here is the Youtube Link to Peace & Unity Prayer

HSS Youth reciting Hindu Peace and Unity PrayerPhoto byHSS Sacramento

Ishana, a high schooler & youth volunteer of HSS said “Being a part of the Martin Luther King Jr. parade was an amazing and unique experience! Gathering with such a large group of people and celebrating the values of peace and non-violence that our ancestors MLK Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi helped remind me of the importance of unity. I was especially glad to share my culture with everyone gathered there by reciting Hindu prayers of peace and unity for all.”

Maramreddy Manish, a high schooler from Roseville stated, “It was amazing to see the community come together and celebrate the Birthday of Dr. MLK Jr. Seeing people of different races coming together in the parade was an amazing experience. We should celebrate these kinds of events to show that all the people are the same regardless of their race.”

Shatakashi, a high school student from a neighboring city said, “The MLK Day festivities in Placer County make me feel more at home and a part of the neighborhood. I was very eager to participate in the march and discover more about Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy in the wake of the pandemic and racial reckoning of recent years. It's a wonderful chance to learn about Dr. King's contribution to civil rights and his vision for the world.”

HSS youth at the marchPhoto byHSS Sacramento, Siddharth

Manya Yanamandra, an 8th grader from Rocklin said, “I think we all should celebrate this event because MLK Jr. was a very important and influential leader who taught us to be prepared for anything, follow the non-violence path and most importantly encourage everyone to have a dream and to pursue it.”

Another participant Tara Chand shared his recent article on his reflections on MLK and his approach to civic movements inspired by the non-violent path as practiced by Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi. The article is available here.

The event was attended by several civic leaders including Rocklin Mayor Ken Broadway, Roseville Mayor Bruce Houdesheldt, Councilmembers Scott Alvord (Roseville), Bill Halldin(Rocklin), Dave Bass (Rocklin), Pauline Pieracci-Roccucci RN (Roseville), Michelle Sutherland (Rocklin Unified School Board Member) and others.

HSS volunteers and elected officialsPhoto byHSS Sacramento

With mayors of Roseville and RocklinPhoto byHSS Sacramento

The event ended with the participants singing “The Negro National Anthem - Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson, originally written for a presentation in celebration of the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.

All in all, the event helped promote harmony, bring the diverse community together and teach the youth about American history. Great to see our community “Rise Above in Truth, Love, and Goodness”.

Apart from participating in the march and reciting the Peace & Unity prayer, HSS volunteers also helped in the cleanup of the facility post the event. The enthusiasm of HSS youth volunteers showed that the next generation is ready to take forward the vision and mission of Dr. King.

MLK Day MarchPhoto byHSS Sacramento

#MLKJrDay #DrKing #PlacerCounty #GandhiKing #Unity #NonViolence #HSSUS #HSSSacramento #HinduAmerican #RisingAboveInLove #TruthAndGoodness

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Rancho Cordova, CA

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