Many commemorating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. will do so virtually this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes the Rev. Robert Trimble, who has been involved in Yakima events for 37 years.

This marks the first time Trimble has prerecorded words for an event celebrating the American civil rights leader’s life and achievements. Trimble is among several people who are recording speeches, prayers and other presentations for Yakima’s special event Monday.

It’s a big change, but the essence remains the same. Despite violence and political fighting, Trimble said, he still believes unity and positive change are possible with love. King maintained his philosophy of nonviolence and changed the course of history without firing a bullet, Trimble said.

“I have hope in the dream. I have hope in God that we shall overcome,” he said. “I’ve dedicated my life to keep hope and peace and love alive and we shall overcome.”

Racism is taught, Trimble said. Just as a person learns to be a racist, people can be taught against it, he said.

“That’s why I celebrate. We haven’t fulfilled the dream, but I still think and believe with nonviolent solutions that we will reach it one day, someday.”

A week of events begins Friday with food distribution at the Henry Beauchamp Center and continue through Jan. 22. The theme is “Power in the People! Freedom, Equality and Prosperity.”

Anthony Peterson, deputy CEO for OIC Washington, is co-chair of MLK events in Yakima with Steve Hill, board chair of OIC Washington. Steve Mitchell, CEO of OIC Washington, has been involved and is participating in Monday’s Zoom celebration with Trimble and many others.

“We’re still celebrating his legacy. We’re doing all we can to make sure that his legacy continues and his presence is felt in the Valley,” Peterson said.

Peterson is master of ceremonies for the celebration Monday. It will take place on Zoom from 1 to 2 p.m. and include a welcome by Mitchell, an invocation by Pastor W.F. Pride and Yakima School District Superintendent Trevor Greene reading a proclamation. Peterson will introduce speakers Dr. Marcus Pimpleton, Reesha Cosby and Pastor Preston Jones.

“We’re basically trying to coordinate a program where the diversity and our community is reflected. We’re trying to make it as accessible to people as possible given the circumstances,” Peterson said.

Events also are planned in Toppenish and Ellensburg on Monday.

Trimble will contribute closing announcements and a closing song to the virtual Yakima celebration. King, who called himself “a drum major for justice,” worked so people could live in peace and aim high, said Trimble, who likes to wish everyone a “Happy King Day.”

“We should continue to be a nation where every child can live without fear (and) dream without limits so they’ll be able to take their rightful place in the story of our great nation,” he said.

Reach Tammy Ayer at or on Facebook.

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