Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King were honored Monday during the King Plaza dedication ceremony at City Hall.
"This event is not just important," former Palo Alto City Council member LaDoris Cordell said. "It's historic."
The naming of the plaza came after a heated political process that Cordell said is reminiscent of the difficulties the Kings faced in their lives.
"We've arrived here after a bumpy journey, and that struggle is symbolic of the one the Kings engaged in. But forever, this plaza will bear the name of the Kings. It is symbolic, and symbols are very important," she said.
Entertainment was provided by The Stanford Gospel Choir and the Eastside Preparatory High School Choir.
Youth Community Service Organization, a partnership between the cities of East Palo Alto and Palo Alto, sponsored a table with civil-rights facts and activities.
Speakers included former Council member Roy Clay, the first person of color on the Palo Alto council; Rev. Robert Olmstead; Clarence Jones, King's former attorney and speechwriter; Cordell; and Vice Mayor Peter Drekmeier.
Drekmeier said that he was "surprised, growing up, that Palo Alto had not recognized Martin Luther King or Coretta Scott King the way that other communities had."
The message of the event, Drekmeier said, "is that we have come a long way but there is still a lot to be done."