The American legacy of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. continues in 2024. His speeches, sermons, and peace marches began in the 1950s with calls for equal human rights for Black Americans. Today, the struggle for complete equality continues with modern day calls to "keep moving forward."


This year's theme for MLK Day events in Yakima and Toppenish is, "Replay the Dream."This year's theme aims to hit the replay button on Dr. King's speeches so that we can really hear the greater context.

When most people think of Dr. King, they think of his famous speech quote about his dream that one day everyone will be "treated equal based on the content of their character" and not the color of their skin.

Sure, strides have been made in many areas of American society, however, the lingering stench of second-class citizenship, prejudice, and disregard for humanity remains hidden in plain sight.

Take for instance my own recent personal horror stories:

  • I have been told by quite a few non-Black moms in The South and the PNW that I cannot date or marry their son because they did not want to have any "mixed grandbabies."
  • I have been followed around in stores many times like they think I'm going to steal something. I noticed that they weren't following around anyone else though, just me.
  • Not long ago, I was told by someone that they believed I was only hired for a certain job because the management "must have needed to hire somebody Black." So basically, they were telling me they felt that I was only an Affirmative Action hire. Oh, so they didn't think I was talented enough to be hired for my skills or my personality? How rude.

Those words and actions were designed to make me feel bad about myself because of the color of my skin (and my gender). Thankfully, I am smart enough to immediately recognize that I am worthy of love, affection, and job opportunities in spite of. Sometimes people get threatened by my mere presence or by their own mediocrity.

So see, even nearly 50 years later, Black people still have to "prove their worth" in the eyes of some. It's mentally exhausting!

A deeper dive into Dr. King's speeches shows that his main goal was to advocate for countrymen and businesses to treat Black folks the same as they did the Whites in all facets of society, including economic justice.



Unequal Lending Practices

KevinAlexanderGeorge on Unsplash

Major bank companies have been caught using discriminatory lending practices that mostly affected Black American populations, even as recently as 2023.

Limited Access to Gain Generational Wealth

Pile of Money
Credit: ThinkStock

Black Americans have historically been shut out of certain lucrative job opportunities, investments, apprenticeships, advanced education, awards, industries, and access to wealth. They have been held back because the people in charge wanted it that way (and horrifyingly, some still do).


Criminal Justice

Experiencing Excessive Force from Law Enforcement

Police crime scene
Brian Jackson

Many African Americans still live in fear of the police due to the sheer amount of avoidable deaths at the hands of law enforcement. Black parents still have "the talk" with their kids.


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Here is a list of MLK Day events happening in Yakima and Toppenish in 2024:



OIC MLK JR. Food Distribution at the OIC Henry Beauchamp Community Center from 9 a.m. to noon.

1211 S 7th St, Yakima

Do It All Radio - Keeping It Real with Sargent Parks MLK Day Celebration at 6 p.m.

Call In Number: 1 (845) 251-9985



MLK Jr. Basketball Tournament at Lewis & Clark Middle School from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Call (509) 864-7313 to register.

1114 Pierce St, Yakima

Registration Fee: $13 per player



MLK Jr. Basketball Tournament at Lewis & Clark Middle School in Yakima from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Call (509) 864-7313 to register.

1114 Pierce St, Yakima

Registration Fee: $13 per player



MLK Jr. Commemoration Church Services at Central Lutheran Church at 3 p.m.

1604 W Yakima Ave, Yakima




City of Toppenish MLK Jr. Peace Walk and March

Kick Off begins at 10 a.m. at the O'Reilly's Auto Parts parking lot and ends at Toppenish Middle School.


City of Yakima MLK Jr. Peace Walk and March

Assemble at the corner of N. 5th Ave and MLK Jr. Blvd at 11:30 a.m. The march commences at noon and ends at the Yakima Convention Center.

Parking is available at Solarity Credit Union at 110 N. 5th Ave in Yakima.

MLK Jr. Celebration at the Yakima Convention Center at 1 p.m.

10 N 8th St, Yakima

MLK Jr. Day Soup Kitchen at the OIC Henry Beauchamp Community Center at 2 p.m.

1211 S 7th St., Yakima

Yakima MLK Day 2024 Events

For more information, contact Ernestina Ortiz at (509) 853-0342 or

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