MANCHESTER, NH — Renewal of the Poor People’s Campaign will be the theme of a panel discussion at the 38th annual Martin Luther King Day Community Celebration, Monday afternoon, January 20, at Temple Adath Yeshurun in Manchester, sponsored by the Martin Luther King Coalition.
“Fifty-one years ago, under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Poor People’s Campaign called for a revolution of values in America, and invited people to stand together against militarism, racism, and economic injustice,” said the Rev. Jason Wells of the NH Council of Churches, one of the Martin Luther King Coalition’s member groups and currently one of the chairs of the NH Poor People’s Campaign. “Drawing on history and our understanding of the challenges we face today, the Poor People’s Campaign has been renewed in 39 states, including this one.”
The panel, to be chaired by Sen. Melanie Levesque, D-Nashua, will look at what the Poor People’s Campaign calls the inter-connected evils of poverty, racism, militarism, and environmental devastation. Members of the panel will include Dr. Debbie Opramolla of the NH Poor People’s Campaign, Will Hopkins, Executive Director of NH Peace Action and an Iraq War veteran, and Representative Wendy Thomas of Merrimack, who has been active in local efforts to safeguard water supplies.
The Martin Luther King Coalition will present the 2020 Martin Luther King Award to Brenda Bailey Lett, a long-time Manchester community activist and author known for organizing workshops on undoing racism and advocating for reparations for people of African descent.
Manny Content will receive the Vanessa Johnson Award in recognition of his support for local nonprofits and especially for agencies that support local youth.
Additional awards will be presented to Samuel Petit, an eighth-grader from Keene Middle School, and Anna Stanton, a fifth-grader from Auburn Middle School, for their entries in the Martin Luther King Jr. Writing Contest.
James McKim of the Greater Manchester NAACP, one of the Coalition’s member groups, will serve as emcee and will also lead a community choir in several songs that lift up the spirt of the King holiday.
The Manchester West High School Jazz Band will perform during a social hour, 2 to 3 p.m.
The program will begin at 3 p.m., with ASL interpreters from UNH Manchester.
Temple Adath Yeshurun is located at 152 Prospect St. in Manchester.
Manchester’s annual observance of Dr. King’s birthday began in 1983, with a program at Brookside Congregational Church sponsored by the Greater Manchester NAACP, the Greater Manchester Black Scholarship Foundation, and the YWCA. Since then, the group of sponsors has grown to include a diverse set of civic organizations. “We continue to be inspired by the example Dr. King set and by everyone who is still working to achieve a world where racism has no place and where peace can flourish,” said Maxine Mosley, VP of the Manchester Education Association, a longtime coalition member group.
The Celebration is free and open to all.