Local News

Monday, Jan 20 2014 09:23 PM

Participants in MLK service strive toward freedom

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    By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian

    Along with local leaders like Mayor Harvey Hall and Police Chief Greg Williamson, about 100 others participated Monday night in a candlelight procession commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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    By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian

    Some of the participants Monday night in a candlelight procession in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day walk from Kern County Superior Court to First Presbyterian Church on 17th Street. Once there, a crowd of more than 300 heard a number of speakers urge them to keep King's dreams alive.

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    By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian

    Participants in a candlelight procession Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day started at the Liberty Bell in front of Kern County Superior Court and walked down Truxtun Avenue to First Presbyterian Church.

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    By Rod Thornburg / Special The Californian

    All ages participated in the Martin Luther King Day candlelight procession, including (left to right ) Amaya Fairgood, her cousin Jason H. Sanders and Amaya's grandmother Eula Fairgood.

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    By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian

    Participants in a candlelight procession Monday night in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day arrive at First Presbyterian Church. The walk began at the Liberty Bell in front of Kern County Superior Court.

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    By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian

    Community leaders and citizens march to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday,

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  7. 7 of 10

    By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian

    Starting at the Liberty Bell in front of Kern County Superior Court and heading west to First Presbyterian Church for snacks, community leaders and citizens march down Truxtun Avenue to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

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    By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian

    Community leaders and participants for this year's march say a prayer to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday at the Liberty Bell in front of Kern County Superior Court before heading west on Truxtun Avenue to First Presbyterian Church for snacks.

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  9. 9 of 10

    By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian

    Community leaders and participants at this year's march say a prayer to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. The marchers started at the Liberty Bell in front of Kern County Superior Court and headed west on Truxtun Avenue to First Presbyterian Church.

    click to expand click to collapse
  10. 10 of 10

    By Rod Thornburg / Special The Californian

    Community leaders and participants say a prayer before marching west on Truxtun Avenue to First Presbyterian Church for snacks to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

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BY STEVE LEVIN Californian staff writer slevin@bakersfield.com

Kathleen Fairgood wasn't born when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived, but believes he helped make her marriage possible to a biracial man.

The Rev. George R. Lartigue was an 18-year-old freshman at Grambling State University in 1958 when he read the preacher and civil rights leader's book "Strive Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story," and the man "became my role model until now."

And although fifth-grader Markus Fleischer really just wanted to escape his brothers by attending the Monday night celebration of King's life at First Presbyterian Church with his mom, he knew King fought for people's rights and helped "stop segregation."

They were some of the more than 300 people, preachers and politicians who sang, preached and prayed in a nearly two-hour service themed "The Prevailing Dream."

It was all about King and his vision and his work, beginning with a candlelight march from the Liberty Bell to the church on 17th Street.

That's where Fairgood, her three kids, two of their cousins and mother, Eula, waited for the procession to begin while recalling King's impact.

For Eula Fairgood, King's legacy taught her "to embrace all races and open our hearts to everyone.

"That all had something to do with how I raised my children," she said.

For Kathleen Fairgood, King laid the foundation that allowed her to marry her husband.

"This kind of race, this kind of relationship, wouldn't have been as easy if not for Martin Luther King, who helped bridge the gap," she said.

Once inside the church sanctuary, speakers spoke of King but also of God, and of spirituality, of unity and dreams and scholarship.

"The truth was what Dr. King was all about," said Patrick Johnson, president of the NAACP Bakersfield branch. "Today we are in a place where we can all come together in unity.

"But we are still in a situation where we have much work to do."

Minister Wesley Crawford Sr. of God Is the Way Christian Ministries said King was placed on earth by God "to show us freedom, justice and equality on a spiritual level.

"To remember a man who gave his life to people -- not just black people but to all people."

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