“Stay Woke … Stay Active.” New Britain Celebrates Martin Luther King Day.

New Britain celebrated Martin Luther King Day on January 15th, 2018 with remembrance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the important work of the Civil Rights Movement, and with reminders of the work still needed against racism and for equality.

Taliah Green. Frank Gerratana photo.

The City Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities held its annual event honoring Dr. King at Trinity-On-Main in downtown New Britain. Jerrell Hargraves was the keynote speaker.

City Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities commemoration of Dr. King continued with the annual wreath-laying at the New Britain Martin Luther King Monument, at the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Stanley and Smalley Streets. Slade School Student Ambassador and National Junior Honor Society Member, Taliah Green delivered the “I Have a Dream Remarks” at the wreath-laying.

Frank Gerratana photo.

In the afternoon, the Mary McLeod Bethune Club, New Britain Chapter, held its Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. City-Wide Celebration at Spottswood AME Zion Church.

The event was themed, “MLK50 – Forward ‘Together We Win With Love and Humanity.’” April 4, 2018 will be the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King. He was assassinated while he was supporting the workers in the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike and while he was working to organize the Poor People’s March, advocating for an Economic and Social Bill of Rights for all Americans.

Mr. James Jones, the Dean of Students at Slade Middle School, the special Guest Speaker at the event, spoke about his life’s work, lifting up young people in the New Britain schools. He said that, even as a youth, himself, growing up in New Britain, he felt the calling to be an educator.

Frank Gerratana photo.

Jones highlighted the need for change still to be accomplished by recounting a story in which one of his sons expressed fear for his elder brother because he was wearing a hoodie sweatshirt, as an African-American youth, in a suburban town. “Talking a little bit about diversity and my children, I would be remiss if I leave today without saying, stay woke,” Jones said. “I had to wake up, myself, because I did not think that my ten year old, at the time, now twelve, was concerned about that.”

Rev. Jacqueline King, Pastor of Spottswood AME Zion Church, added that people also need to, “stay active,” in working for needed change.