Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Program Airs Virtually June 17-20 on TV Santa Barbara

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Santa Barbara Committee (MLKSB) will present a virtual celebratory program on TVSB during the Juneteenth weekend, June 17-20. Each year, the committee chooses a theme based on a quote of Dr. King. This year’s quote, pulled from a letter he wrote in Birmingham, Alabama, on April 14, 1963, stated:

“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, ties in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects us all.”

Keynote speaker Guy R. Walker will offer comments on the MLKSB theme for the year. Due to health concerns, the in-person MLK Jr. holiday was cancelled. Now, the virtual program will be released during the Juneteenth weekend. Watch the progam here:

Opening the program, Miriam Dance will sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is know as the Black National Anthem. That will be followed by E. onja (say it o-wan-ja) Brown, MLKSB board president, delivering her President’s Message. Next, Isaac Garrett, board vice president, will discuss this year’s program, which is dedicated to two community who have passed, William “Bill” Sims and Hal Conklin.

Art Cisneros of the Coastal Band, Chumash will offer a blessing that the MLK Jr. holiday goes well. The 2022 line-up of performers and speakers includes: local singers Dance, Lanzandria “Lan” Richey and Aleena Ortiz; Spoken Word from Michelle Williams and Camron Williams; Essay and Poetry top students’ awardees; Janet Reineck, World Dance for Humanity; and Santa Barbara Community Choir, led by Cornelius Florence.

Providing opportunities for schoolchildren, the MLKSB Essay and Poetry Awards program encourages students to submit entries based on the theme. Those receiving top awards, for the 2022 theme, will be reading their entries which showcase how thoughtful and expressive young residents can be when given an equally thoughtful quote from Dr. King.

Commenting on the partnership with TVSB during recent challenging times, Brown said: “Without the help of TVSB, our outreach into the community would be drastically reduced and missed. Our board thanks Erik Davis, E.D. at TVSB for making the time in the schedule for our award-winning pieces, performers and keynote address by Mr. Walker, who shares how the theme can be applied in our daily lives.”

Walker is president of the Endowment for Youth Community which offers scholarships to African/American students. Walker was the fourth black student to graduate from Dunn School in Los Olivos in the 1970s. His commitment to giving youth a chance at getting a good education and by applying his Three Pillars in building the nonprofit has made a difference in the community.  

“We fill an important need here, and we are proud to create this program for the Martin Luther King Jr. committee of Santa Barbara,” Davis said. “Media access centers like TVSB play a vital role in giving voice to communities lucky enough to have them.”

One of the most popular portions of the annual MLKSB Celebration are the students who took home the top prizes in poetry and essays reading their work. There are four groups, divided into boys and girls, and by ages 6-12 and 13-18.

“Students are recognized by providing them opportunities for public readings at community events and on radio,” Brown said. “We should applaud and celebrate them for their ideas on non-violence and words that honor the life and legacy of Dr. King.”

Former Santa Barbara poet laureate Sojourner Kincaid Rolle, who has served on the board of MLKSB since its inception, chaired the essay and poetry committee for 13 years and remains a consultant for the program. “Teachers, families and young people have all participated over the years, and it’s become a standard in the celebration,” she said.

Two dozen entries were chosen by the judges from student submissions from Santa Barbara and the surrounding communities, including Goleta, Isla Vista, Carpinteria, Summerland and Montecito. Most recently the area was expanded to include Lompoc and Santa Ynez Valley. Linda Ryles coordinated the essay and poetry awards in the Santa Ynez Valley schools.

In the 6-12 age group first place awardee Amalia Cruz reads her essay “Don’t Hide Your Feelings” and Ronnie Gloo reads her poem “Together.” In the 13-18 age group, and top placing wordsmiths are Julia Weitzman for her essay “Fight Feathers,” and Rooke Juarez reads his essay “The Struggle for Equality.”

To view the winners, visit

Thanks to major sponsors for their support: James S. Bower Foundation, Union Bank, First United Methodist Church, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, Wells Fargo Bank, UCSB Multi Cultural Center, Healing Justice.