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JJ Frank, executive director of the Marysville YMCA, talks at the city of Marysville’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day event.

 

The city of Marysville recognized Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year at the Marysville Opera House with an event honoring the civil rights leader.

Community members watched the 2014 film “Selma,” which depicts the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march led by a coalition of civil rights activists including Martin Luther King Jr.

JJ Frank, executive director of the Marysville YMCA, introduced the film and led a discussion afterward.

“Us doing a disservice to his legacy would be to watch the movie and then go away,” he said.

Frank said that the film takes an honest look at America.

“The movie is a very powerful movie. It talks about racism and the fight for black people to get the right to vote,” he said.

“What’s good about this movie is that there were good, decent Americans saying ‘this will not define us, we will move forward,’” he said.

Marysville officials hoped to offer an event for the diverse members of the local community.

“Our ultimate goal is to expand our cultural arts offerings, and while we’re doing that we not only want to be multi-generational but also multi-cultural,” said Lauren Woodmansee, cultural arts supervisor with the Marysville Parks, Culture and Recreation Department.

“We have so many groups that are a part of Marysville and we want to expand our offerings to attract all of them, and also to help us all learn a little more,” she said.

Woodmansee said the program went very well.

“We’re really pleased with the age groups that showed up. There were some families with three generations of members,” she said.

She said that the city asked Frank to come lead the discussion because of his work in the community.

“He is so involved in the community, especially with projects promoting diversity, we thought he would be a good fit to lead this program,” said Woodmansee.

“The dialogues were diverse and encouraging, and there was a lot of energy,” she said.

Frank encouraged working together to move forward as a country.

“Even in the underground railroad there had to be white allies along that path for freedom,” Frank said.

“We’re not going to end racism today in one conversation, but this is a start of an ongoing conversation about how we eliminate racism in our communities, and what does it look like in 2019,” he said.

He hoped that people of all races could collaborate to build a better future.

“When we work together, that’s the way that our communities are stronger,” he said.

Woodmansee said she hopes that the event can be a jumping off point for the city to collaborate with other groups and celebrate the different cultures that are a part of Marysville.

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