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Kern County celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

Martin Luther King Jr. portrait at MLK Center in Bakersfield, Calif., is seen Jan. 21, 2019. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

Hundreds of people gathered in locations around Kern County to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

“I think it’s just a day that we can remember how Dr. Martin Luther King inspired a generation,” Steven Watkins, director of outreach and school relations for Bakersfield College, said.

In Bakersfield, city leaders hosted the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Community Awards Breakfast, where various community members were honored for their contributions.

During the day, church members, city officials, and students from local districts walked around the streets of Lamont cleaning up neighborhoods.

“The youth is really what drives change in our community. By having a day of service, giving back to their community, it gives them a sense of ownership, of pride,” volunteer Jose Gonzalez said.

In Bakersfield, community leaders and members participated in the annual march celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a national holiday.

“I’m marching in solidarity and love,” march participant Mary Helen Barro said. “There’s so much hatred and animosity in our country these days. So, we’re all coming together in love and unity, rather than division and hatred and misunderstandings.”

City leaders linked arms and marched down Wilson Street, singing "We Shall Overcome," a song sung during the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965, during the civil rights movement.

“It’s important to give back to the community, just like Martin Luther King did,” Gonzalez said.

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