Join us for the 25th annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life on Monday, January 18, 2021, 10:00-11:30AM, that promises to be inspirational. This year’s theme centers around King’s speech “Where do we go from here: Chaos or Community.”
Due to the pandemic, the event will be held virtually on West Hartford Community Interactive on Comcast Ch. 5, Frontier Ch. 6098 and here on www.whctv.org. The link to watch the presentation will appear below on Monday, January 18th. Please bookmark this page for Monday.
ABOUT THE KEYNOTE SPEAKERS - COREY MACKEY AND AJ JOHNSON OF THE CENTER FOR LEADERSHIP AND JUSTICE
Cori Mackey has two decades of executive leadership experience in urban ministry, social justice work, nonprofit management, and faith-based community organizing. In August 2014, she was appointed executive director of the Center for Leadership and Justice (CLJ). Cori’s passions are engaging low-income communities in organizing efforts that bring about quality of life changes, and promoting the intersection of social justice and congregational life so that church is more than just a gathering space on Sundays. She holds an Master’s degree in Divinity from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, OH and is a member of Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford.
Pastor AJ Johnson is a full-time organizer at CLJ and a pastor at Urban Hope Refuge Church in Hartford’s north end where AJ’s father pastored for 24 years. AJ has been active in many social justice movements in Hartford, including a key leader in the Fight for 15 Campaign, and is a well-respected community leader. AJ has a Master’s degree in Organizational Management and Leadership and a Bachelor’s degree in religious studies and education.
The 2021 celebration also includes a welcome from Mayor Shari Cantor, opening prayerful presentation by members of the Connecticut Council for Interreligious Understanding and a greeting from the U.S. Capitol by Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Town Historian Tracey Wilson will share information on the Witness Stones Project.
Adrienne Billings-Smith, Esq. will serve as master of ceremonies. Adrienne Billings-Smith is a local attorney and flight attendant. Adrienne earned her Juris Doctorate in 2013 and has been practicing law in Connecticut since 2014. She is a former college basketball player, graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2004.
She is also the founder and president of Concerned Parents of Color of West Hartford and co-chair of the West Hartford’s Human Rights Commission.
Each year two students from the public high schools are selected to give student perspectives on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This year, Taylor Santana of Conard High School and Megan Rodriguez-Hawkins of Hall High School were chosen.
The event features musical performances by West Hartford Public School students.
“Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” considered the Black National Anthem, will be sung in three parts. The first verse will be performed by Emma Billings of Aiken School. The second verse will be sung by the Hall Choraliers and Conard Solo Choir, and the third verse will be a solo by Latanya Farrell, a Hall parent, singer, song writer and principal of Stanford Elementary School in Bristol.
Tai Kachwaha Comiso of Conard High School, and Brett Boles, Hall High music teacher, will accompany the singers on piano.
Tai Kachwaha Comiso will also play Glory by John Legend to a West Hartford montage.
The 2021 event will end with We Shall Overcome sung by Conard, Hall, Bristow, Sedgwick, and King Philip choirs. Viewers at home are encouraged to sing-along.
The West Hartford African American Social & Cultural Organization (WHAASCO), West Hartford Human Rights Commission, the Witness Stones Project, Town of West Hartford, and West Hartford Public Schools are annual sponsors of the event.
West Hartford Community Interactive will air the event at 10AM on Monday, January 18 on Comcast channel 5, Frontier channel 6098 and on here on this page on whctv.org.
To read Dr. King’s “Where do we go from here? Chaos or Community,” click here: https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/where-do-we-go-here-address-delivered-eleventh-annual-sclc-convention
For more information, contact Renée McCue, public relations specialist, Town of West Hartford at (860) 561-7521 or email Renee@WestHartfordCT.gov.