The annual Martin Luther King Jr march in Los Banos is coming up in celebration of the holiday named after that Nobel Prize winner.

The celebration begins at 11 a.m. on Monday, Jan 16. Participants will meet at Los Banos City Hall, 520 J St. The short march will proceed to Bethel Community Church, 415 I street, which is a few blocks away.

The Los Banos event organizer, Eldridge Johns, said “We do this once a year to celebrate this great man, to raise awareness. He gave his life so that our lives may be uplifted.”

Further celebration continues at the Bethel Community Church with Dr. Pam Smith serving as the master of ceremonies. Prayer and song will precede people speaking about the impact and message of the Reverend Dr. King. Pastor Steve Hammond and Pastor Keith Johnson are also regulars at the annual celebration.

The message of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. has an international reach, and the civil rights movement continues to impact people worldwide. In fact, Dr. King is the only non-president to have a national holiday in his name.

One cause that has been a focus for participants in recent years is the naming of a Los Banos street after Dr. King. Since his assassination in 1968, nearly 1,000 American streets bear the name Martin Luther King Jr.. Efforts to rename streets after Dr. King have been more prominent since the mid 1990’s.

Renaming a street can be difficult as some municipalities require all occupants on a given street to consent to a name change, other cities have less rules but more paperwork. The relevance of a street named after activists and historic figures reflects the community and their values.

In an interview with the New York Times, Derek H. Alderman, a professor of geography at the University of Tennessee, discussed the relevance of street names in a community. Alderman reminds communities to not underestimate the power of community street names. “Street names become a part of the language of a city, and then they become a part of the psyche of the people.”

The message of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. is love, progress and perseverance. In an effort to encourage community members to become peaceful activists, King urged them “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk. If you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

People wishing to celebrate the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are invited to meet outside the Los Banos City Hall on Jan. 16 at 11 a.m.

Courtney Andrade