Community members gathered at events in Portsmouth, Hollis, and across the state today/Monday to celebrate the life – and the mission -- of Martin Luther King Jr.
Manchester, NH celebrated its 31st annual Martin Luther King Day community celebration at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral.
The Keynote speaker, Richard Haynes, is the Associate Director of Admissions for Diversity at UNH. He says he thinks about Martin Luther King’s legacy every day, as he drives to the University in Dover.
He would say that no child should be left out of the educational process. Be it black, white, short, tall, no child should be left out of the educational process. And he would then call every business leader, every doctor, every lawyer, every community leader, every church, and holding students responsible as well, to this process.
Before Haynes’ keynote address, a Martin Luther King award was presented to New Hampshire’s Sisters of Mercy, for their efforts to end the death penalty, and advocacy for civil rights.
Central High School’s jazz band played at the event, while a cohort of City Year students in red jackets sat nearby.
Arnie Alpert helped coordinate the event. He says New Hampshire "has the distinction of the being the last state in the nation to adopt a holiday named for Dr. Martin Luther King Junior." Alpert was one of the civil rights advocates who worked from 1979 to 1999 to make sure the holiday was recognized by the state.
Alpert says he believes New Hampshire communities celebrate Martin Luther King and his day of recognition with a special enthusiasm "because of the resistance to the holiday." He says that during all those the years "when it was not getting official recognition, we had people all over the state saying we are going to celebrate this holiday, and we are not going to wait for the state to tell us it’s important. We are going to do it ourselves."
At the event, New Hampshire’s Sisters of Mercy received the Martin Luther King Award. It was presented by last year’s recipient, Woullard Lett.