Martin Luther King Jr. Day observances and programs set for Bennington and region

Numerous Martin Luther King Jr. Day observances and programs are scheduled in Bennington County and the wider region. A roundup follows:


Join in celebrating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, Jan. 15. This year's theme is based on the vision and meaning of Dr. King's words "The Beloved Community."

The celebration will begin with a 6 p.m. candlelight vigil at the Four Corners in downtown Bennington followed by a procession to the Oldcastle Theater where a reception with hot cider and "finger food" will be held at 6:30 p.m.

The evening's program of music, with Marsh Hudson-Knapp, and speakers describing their witness to The Beloved Community will begin in the auditorium at 7 p.m. The speakers will be from many of the outreach organizations in Bennington including The Homeless Coalition, Greater Bennington Interfaith Council Services,, Rights And Democracy, a Bennington Representative to the state Legislature,

The Bennington Interfaith Council and the Greater Bennington Peace and Justice Center are sponsoring. Each speaker will reflect about how his or her group is witnessing to the vision and meaning of "The Beloved Community."


The community is invited to attend the annual worship service in honor of Martin Luther King to be held at the Israel Congregation of Manchester on Monday at 7 p.m. This service is sponsored by the Interfaith Council of the Northshire. Historian and civil rights scholar Dr. Stewart Burns is the scheduled speaker. Cantor Scott Buckner of Israel Congregation and Jeff Linebeck, music director at First Baptist, are working together to present special music for this occasion. The service will conclude with a Q & A period and refreshments.


St. Michael's Episcopal will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday, Jan. 14, in recognition of the call of faith to work toward racial healing, especially at this time.

St. Michael's Episcopal Church is located at 16 Bradley Ave. Starting at 10:45 a.m., Charles Mays, Jr. will speak on the context of the challenges and joys of his own life about what racial healing might look like. Mays is no stranger to Brattleboro, having sung at the Marlboro Festival and on many occasions for St. Michael's Music Director, Susan Dedell.

Mays will also lead the 9 a.m. Adult Forum the same morning. While planning for his visit, the Social Justice Committee asked Mays several questions: "What does a black man have to say to a predominantly white congregation on MLK Sunday?" "What can white allies offer African Americans?" "Do you see signs of hope?"

When he accepted the invitation to spend the morning at St. Michael's, Mays wrote "I will hope I can offer something to challenge and inspire the congregation to introspection

resulting in outward action."

Mays was raised and nurtured in the Southern Baptist tradition of singing and piano playing. He went on to study voice, culminating in doctoral studies at the Hartt School of Music, where his dissertation topic was the Middle Passage development of the spiritual. Mays' ties to the Brattleboro community began when he

was invited to participate in the Marlboro Music Festival. He was selected to be a touring member of Marlboro Festival and was in residence for three seasons. Following that, Mays won the Metropolitan Opera Young Artist Award.


On Monday, Jan. 15, at 5:30 p.m. there will be a celebration in honor of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Centre Congregational Church, 193 Main St.

The service will include representatives of many faith traditions, readings from Dr. King, an update from state senator Becca Balint regarding initiatives being taken around the state and in the legislature. Well-known Blues guitarist Scott Ainslie is the featured musician and Andy Davis will lead a community choir. The celebration will end with an encouragement by Steffen Gillom of the local NAACP and the lighting of candles by everyone in attendance. Singers of all ages and abilities are encouraged to come to the church by 4:20 to rehearse songs for the service.

This event is sponsored by Brattleboro Area Interfaith Leadership and is a wonderful opportunity for people of all ages, faiths, races and ethnicities to come together to remember the work of Dr. King, to celebrate all that unites us and to learn about local community organizations working against racism. Admission is free, but a good will donation will be taken with proceeds shared between the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity and the Root Social Justice Center.

A community gathering to include food will follow the celebration on the lower level of the church. The Root Social Justice Center, Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity, the Vermont Poor People's Campaign, Youth for Change, NAACP, People of Color Caucus, Lost River Racial Justice Group and other local group working for racial justice will all offer information and make short presentations on how people can be involved locally to work against racism. For more information about this event, contact Guilford Community Church, U.C.C. at 802-257-2776.


Williams College will celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with events beginning Sunday, Jan. 14, through Friday, Jan. 19. All are welcome to attend these free, public events.

For the opening event on Sunday, Jan. 14, Joseph Wilson '19 and Black Campus Ministry will have a praise session and reflection at 1 p.m. in Thompson Memorial Chapel.

Monday, Jan. 15, Williams students will partner with MCLA students and members of the Berkshire community to participate in a variety of service projects from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

From noon to 5 p.m. Paresky's Baxter Hall, students of Steven Miller, associate professor of mathematics, will build a LEGO bridge. Families are especially welcome.

At 7 p.m. in Paresky Auditorium, Williams scholars and professors reflect on today's current movements and their relationship to the Civil Rights Movement.

Wednesday, Jan. 17, in Driscoll Lounge, there will be a session "Informed and Involved: Organizing Workshop Featuring Local Advocates and Activists," from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m.

A screening of the film Dolores will be shown Thursday, Jan. 18, in Paresky Auditorium at 7:45 p.m. Dolores Huerta co-founded the first farm workers unions with Cesar Chavez, yet her enormous contributions have gone largely unrecognized. The film is directed by Peter Bratt.

On Friday, Jan. 19, there will be an Islamic prayer service in Thompson Memorial Chapel Basement at 1 p.m. The closing event will be student vocal performances from 6:00-6:30 p.m. during the all-night "Marathon of Voices," where musicians from the Williams community perform from sunset to sunrise.

These events are co-sponsored by the Davis Center, the Center for Learning in Action, the Chaplain's Office, the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives, and Dining Services.


MCLA and the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition (NBCC) welcome all community members to the 25th Annual day of volunteer service at sites that include the Louison House, YMCA, Adams Youth Center, Friendship Center Food Pantry, Goodwill Industries, and Williamstown First Congregational Church.

Projects will also take place in the Venable Gym, includingblanket and scarf making, plastic mat weaving, making shopping bags from feed bags, putting together care packages for Puerto Rican families and a letter-writing Action Workshop directed toward legislators regarding cuts to funding that benefit families, people who are homeless and people who are incarcerated.

The theme of this year's event is based on MLK's "Letter from Birmingham Jail," which defended his strategy for nonviolent resistance to racism and oppression. Theme colors, inspired from this letter, are yellow for self-purity, blue for action, red for identity, and green for negotiate.

Volunteer projects will run from 9 a.m. to noon, and lunch will follow at 12:30 p.m. in the Venable Gym. This year's event has moved to the larger space to accommodate its growth and popularity; more than 200 people are expected to join in.

As part of the program, Richard Alcombright, former mayor of North Adams, will be honored with this year's MLK Peacemaker Award for his dedication to both the people who live here and a multitude of programs established throughout the region.

The program will include music by the MCLA Allegrettos and poems written and performed by Casual Writers of Northern Berkshire, and speakers: North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard, MCLA President James Birge, State Rep. John Barrett III (D-North Adams), and State Sen. Adam Hinds (D-Pittsfield).


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions