Community braves the cold for this annual march


The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. March and Ceremony took place Monday, as the community came together to honor his legacy.

The annual march, hosted by The Martin Luther King Center began at 11:30 a.m. from Laurelton Boulevard and West Park Avenue, weaving its way through the streets of Long Beach and concluding at the MLK Center despite the poor weather.

“It was a great turn out, we were thrilled to see the outpouring of support from the community,” Executive Director of the MLK Center, Andrea Gauto, said. “Most importantly what stood out was the amount of diversity throughout the room. It was heartwarming to see a variety of ages, races, and socio-economic backgrounds, celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

The most impactful part of the march for Gauto was to have the community walk the same route Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. walked when he visited Long Beach.

Following the march, a ceremony was held at the MLK Center, highlighting this year’s theme, “Pouring Life into the Future.” 

The ceremony honored individuals who have significantly contributed to the Long Beach MLK Center’s rebranding and success over the years. Attendees celebrated the life of MLK through various forms of art, music, dance, and more.

“We were lucky enough to welcome over 150 people. Our elected officials, community leaders, and community members. County Legislator Patrick Mullaney was in attendance,” Gauto said. “Brendan Finn, President of the city council, and Dan Creighton City manager gave a moving speech. We had past Board Chairs like Ms. Jackie Odom and James Hodge speak as well.”

“Our Keynote Speaker, Bishop Melton, stole the show with a speech that was moving, empowering, and thought-provoking,” she said. “Our Chairman Cedrick Coad presented special awards to Norman Wilson Jr. and Kadaja Bailey, two of our basketball stars who have very successful careers as basketball players.”

Beyond the annual celebration, The MLK Center continues to play a vital role in the community by providing specialized services to residents of Long Beach and surrounding areas, including towns like Island Park, Oceanside, Hempstead, and beyond. With a primary focus on the underserved North Park Community in Long Beach.

The center promotes growth and development through a range of services, including counseling, mentoring, early childhood development, cultural enrichment, youth empowerment, career development, entrepreneurial exploration, and hands-on training in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Guato expresses gratitude to Commander Lieutenant Hernando Gauto, a Technical Manager at NASA’s Human Exploration and Ops. Department. Lieutenant Gauto delivered an inspirational speech at the MLK Center, encouraging children from minority backgrounds to pursue careers at NASA.

The MLK Center collaborates with NASA’s educational department for STEM programs, aiming to host the first African American Astronaut to visit the moon. Additionally, Julio Gauto, an Electrical Instructor, initiated the Trades and Tech program at the center, covering various practical skills such as electricity, carpentry, plumbing, welding, project management, and OSEA training.