Martin Luther King Coalition celebrates “Growing the Beloved Community”

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Eva Castillo at a demonstration outside of the White House.
Eva Castillo at a demonstration outside of the White House, one of many she’s participated in over the years.

MANCHESTER, NH  – On January 16 the Martin Luther King Coalition will celebrate its 35th annual Martin Luther King Day Community Celebration at the Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Manchester in observance of those people who are dedicated to the ideals of social justice, anti-racism, peace, and nonviolent change.

The celebration will include live music and an awards presentation to the winners of the Martin Luther King Arts and Writing Contest. This free event includes a catered meal by the New Hampshire Food Bank and social hour from 2-3 p.m. The awards ceremony and arts competition will take place from 3-5 p.m.

The 2017 Martin Luther King Award will be given to Eva Castillo, Executive Director of the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees.

Eva Castillo
Eva Castillo

“For more than three decades, Eva has been a stalwart voice in defense of immigrant rights in New Hampshire,” said Arnie Alpert of the American Friends Service Committee. “At a time when our immigrant brothers and sisters are facing increased discrimination, and when the incoming Presidential Administration is threatening to arrest and deport 3 million people, the Martin Luther King Coalition is proud to have Eva’s voice ringing loud and clear in our community.”

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Castillo has been working with the Latino community since she moved to the United States in 1976. When she moved to New Hampshire in 1984, she worked at the New England Farm Workers Council and the Latin American Center. In 2007, Eva was hired by MIRA Coalition as an organizer and coordinator of the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees. In that role, she encourages and trains others to stand up for themselves and to take charge of their own lives and circumstances.

“We must realize that it is only by working together that we will achieve the power we need in order to make changes in society,” says Castillo.

She is also part of the Steering Committee for the NH Health Equity Initiative and the NH immigrant Integration Initiative. Eva is Chair of the Manchester Disproportionate Minority Contact Committee; serves as a Manchester Police Commissioner; and as Vice Chair of the Governor’s Commission on Latino Affairs. Working tirelessly in support of immigrants’ with workers’ rights education; and medical and legal interpreting – you will also find Ms. Castillo as a constant presence at the NH State House when her testimony is needed in bills affecting immigrants and refugees.

Robert Azzi

In-line with the ideals that embody the mission of the MLK Community Celebration, Robert Azzi will serve as the 2017 keynote speaker to address the related issues of racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and nativism. As an Arab-American Muslim photojournalist, columnist, public speaker, education consultant, and native Granite Stater, Mr. Azzi writes on issues of identity, conflict, and Islam. In recent months he has offered “Ask a Muslim Anything” presentations in several New Hampshire communities.

Azzi is a columnist whose work appears (almost) weekly in The Concord Monitor; Foster’s Daily Democrat; The Keene Sentinel; and The Portsmouth Herald – where he attempts to contextualize Islam and the Middle East by speaking in the voice of The Other. “People don’t know what they don’t know,” says Azzi. “I want to open up new perspectives for my readers – especially for those who don’t often agree with me – and expose them to points-of-view I believe are important and which they might not have previously considered.”

If attending, please bring any canned and boxed food as the MLK Coalition will be donating all food collected to the NH Food Bank. This event is FREE and open to the public — all are welcome.

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Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!