Around 80 people gathered at Fresno City College on Saturday night for a candlelight vigil to pay tribute to the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and his message of peace and unity.
The theme focused on the recent violence against members of the Sikh community in Fresno.
“We need to take a stand. The outcry against hate crimes needs to be loud and clear,” said Sharnjit Purewal of the Sikh Council of Central California. “I look forward to the day – to paraphrase Dr. King – the day when we can sit together at the table of brotherhood – together as brothers and sisters.”
Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers, spoke out against racism and emphasized King’s message of togetherness.
“Racism is not something that children are born with. It’s something that they acquired from their families,” Huerta said. “The one place we can start chipping away and changing that – especially in the minds of very young children – that we are all one human family.”
It is the right of every person to practice religion the way they want to.
Ike Grewal of the Sikh Council of Central California
Ike Grewal, a member of the Sikh Council, referred to the recent violence and spoke about how King’s message transcends race and includes religion.
“Here in Fresno, it’s unfortunate that the basic civil rights of folks are violated just because they look a certain way – they dress a certain way – they practice religion in a different way,” Grewal said. “It is the right of every person to practice religion the way they want to.”
King’s birthday was Jan. 15, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday.