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Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. in San Diego

The 1963 March on Washington (photograph by Warren K. Leffler via Wikimedia Commons)

San Diego will once again be hosting one of the largest celebrations of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the nation on Sunday, January 19th, with additional events planned for the civil-rights icon’s official federal holiday the next day. We hope you’ll join us at the Sofia Hotel here in Downtown San Diego for the festivities—and for the reflections on the continuing relevance of Dr. King’s work and message.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade in San Diego

The 40th Annual San Diego Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade kicks off at 2 PM on Sunday, and proceeds along Harbor Drive between Grape Street and Broadway, and then on Broadway to the Pacific Highway. (That’s just blocks from our own position on Broadway here at the Sofia.)

The parade is presented by the Zeta Sigma Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, which is the oldest African-American fraternity in the nation, having been established back in 1906 at Cornell University. Dr. King himself joined the fraternity’s Boston Sigma chapter in 1952, and received an award of honor from Alpha Phi Alpha in 1956 while attending a convention marking its 50th anniversary. As the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research & Education Institute of Stanford University notes, “King called the event one of the happiest moments of his life and said that the award gave him ‘renewed courage to continue in the great and momentous struggle for justice.’ ”

The parade will feature a wide variety of participants, including marching bands, drill teams, church groups, non-profits, and law enforcement officers and firefighters, among them Brothers United, a San Diego organization of black firefighters. 

The Grand Marshal for the 2020 San Diego Martin Luther King, Jr. is Racquel Vasquez, mayor of Lemon Grove, California and the first African-American mayor in San Diego County. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Festivities in San Diego

Among the events planned for Monday are the 12th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Interfaith Service in Balboa Park—an all-ages opportunity to participate in some hands-on volunteer work and community service in the spirit of Dr. King—and the 31st Annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration at the WorldBeat Cultural Center, also in Balboa Park. This will feature live multicultural performances, dancing, food vendors, arts-and-crafts vendors, and more.

If you’ll be in San Diego this holiday weekend, we hope you’ll get a chance to take part in the city’s various events honoring Dr. King, including the 40th edition of one of the biggest Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parades anywhere!