The Bay Area remembers Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 2016

People of a great variety faiths came together this past weekend to honor the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to call for continued change. 

On Friday, January 15 (King’s birthday), People of Faith Support Black Lives Matter—Bay Area organized a memorial service in honor of the nine black and brown men killed by Bay Area police in 2015. As a recording of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech played in the background outside Oakland City Hall, people laid flowers and meditated upon the nine cardboard coffins that memorialized the nine lives lost. 

Following this period of silence, activists called for change in police practices and more government investment in the people. One speaker mentioned that Oakland was third in the nations in terms of the number of police shootings. This was followed by a prayer that political leaders and other people in authority learn to see the divine in everyone. A brass band led a procession of coffins through downtown Oakland until they came to rest at the Lake Merritt amphitheater. 

On Sunday, January 17, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, hosted an interfaith evensong honoring King’s legacy. The Evensong began with a soul-stirring rendition of “Let us break bread together” by Hope Briggs. Following the song, spiritual leaders from Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Buddhist traditions each gave short reflections on King’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech given in 1964

These reflections spoke to the necessity of all religions to work together to achieve King’s vision. As Rabbi Beth Singer put it, for “us to be the reflection” of the peace and justice for all races called for by King. 

The most powerful statement of the service came from King himself, in a recording of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech: “I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land…This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future.” 

Ending with a communal rendition of “We shall overcome,” was a powerful reminder that whatever the odds, the human spirit King’s legacy of working for justice will continue. 

The events of the weekend came to a climax in the annual San Francisco Interfaith Council’s Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Interfaith March and Commemoration on Monday, January 18. After a march from 4th and Townsend to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop of California, introduced the special guest and honoree Egbert Perry, a real estate developer from Atlanta who has done much to promote affordable housing and urban development for all citizens.

Although King’s dream is still far from reality in many parts of this nation, the Diocese of California, in collaboration with other people of faith, will continue to pray and work for change.



Additional photos from the festivities are available on Facebook here.