Bright sunshine broke through the clouds in Eureka this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day morning as several hundred people gathered in front of the Humboldt County Courthouse for the People’s Rally and March for Justice, an event and action jointly planned by members of the Eureka NAACP, Centro del Pueblo, Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples and Justice for Josiah. 

Event emcee and Centro del Pueblo member Renee Saucedo kicked off the event. 

Renee Saucedo

“Happy Birthday, Dr. King! Thank you for inspiring us to push what is right, not always popular. Thank you for inspiring us to rely on ourselves for change, for organizing those who are most impacted by racism and poverty. Thank you for helping us to build our courage because it is what we need to make change, especially in these times. We’re proud here in Humboldt County to follow your legacy — fighting for justice for Josiah Lawson; fighting to pass Measure K so that people don’t have to feel terrorized by the deportations; fighting to pass Measure M to take down a symbol of racism, and oppression and slavery; for land returned to the Wiyot last year. We continue to defer to those who are most oppressed by the injustices of this system. But Dr. King, as you know, we have a ways to go to truly honor you. DA Maggie Fleming, we demand that you file charges immediately against the murderer of Josiah Lawson!”

(Hear the entirety of Saucedo’s comments as well as the rest of today’s speakers in the clip below.)

After several powerful speeches the crowd marched from the courthouse down to the Adorni Center for the NAACP’s annual celebration of the life and teachings of MLK. Scroll down for photos from today’s proceedings.

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Renee Saucedo and Charmaine Lawson go over event details

Activist and musician Julio Torres strums a tune

Yurok elder Jene L. McCovey blesses the day

Organizer Charmaine Lawson, mother of slain HSU student David Josiah Lawson, spoke of her continued efforts to secure justice for her son and expressed her gratitude to the community for attending today’s march.

“This is a beautiful day. The sun is out. There was a rainbow earlier — my son did that, OK?” Lawson said to cheers from the crowd. (Again, hear the entirety of Lawson’s remarks in the clip above.)

Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson and Arcata Police Chief Brian Ahearn take in today’s speeches

11-year-old Sadie Shelmire spoke of her experiences dealing with racism at Arcata Elementary School. “In Kindergarten a student said my skin looked like poop,” Shelmire recounted. “My response was, ‘Everyone is beautiful, and the One above hears everything that you say so you’d better hope Jesus forgives you.’”

Eureka NAACP MLK Day event emcee Lorna Bryant