Central Coast Joins Nation in Honoring MLK

Others focus on living legacy of slain civil rights leader.

Keith Carls, KCOY Central Coast News Reporter, KeithCarls@kcoy.com
POSTED: 04:54 PM PST Jan 20, 2014 
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SANTA MARIA, Calif. -

The nation and the Central Coast remembered the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Monday.

"Dr. King's dream encompassed all people, not just African-American, but all people", says Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt, head of the Santa Maria-Lompoc chapter of the NAACP, "in a lot of ways we've made a lot of progress but there are still things where we are going backwards instead of going forward."

Lyons-Pruitt points to the recent Supreme Court ruling invalidating parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

"Not only are they requiring voter id's but they are changing the rules of engagement so to speak", Lyons-Pruitt says, "there was time when you could vote, maybe they had long hours when you could go in and vote, they are shortening the hours, those types of things, why are they doing that?"

Lyons-Pruitt also points to problems in local schools.

"There's some alarming statistics out there on the number of African-American students, Hispanic students that are expelled from school", Lyons-Pruitt says, "they are three times as likely to be expelled from school as a white child with the same offense, something is wrong with that."

The NAACP will host a public celebration and forum this weekend in Santa Maria to honor and remember the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

"The question that I pose to our community, we want the community to come out, are we satisified and if we're not satisfied, why?, Lyons-Pruitt says, "we want to explore some of the issues that we can deal with as a community and also individually."

Here is the information regarding the MLK Celebration on Saturday:

The Santa Maria/Lompoc branch of the NAACP will hold a celebration honoring the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Saturday January 25, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. at UDW, the homecare providers union, 402 South Miller, Santa Maria. 

The program will also feature a special tribute to former South African President Nelson Mandela.

This free event is open to the public and will feature music, poetry, praise dancing and a panel discussion. 

Those with disabilities requiring assistance should contact NAACP President, Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt, at (805)-448-7869.