'Now More Than Ever' Refrain at Martin Luther King Celebration In Manchester

Jan 16, 2017

Sandra Hicks was the first recipient of the Martin Luther King Coalition's award in 1987.
Credit Emily Corwin / NHPR

For 35 years, the Martin Luther King Coalition has hosted a celebration of the late civil rights leader’s birthday in Manchester. Some at this year’s event said now more than ever - King’s Legacy must not be forgotten.

Early in her invocation, Meriden’s United Church of Christ Reverend, Gail Kinney, zeroed in on current events.

“Dr. King, we are dispirited,” Kinney preached. “The voices of racism and xenophobia have been emboldened, and we overwhelmed with the swelling denigration of our immigrant brothers and sisters, and our Muslim brothers and sisters, and women, and the poor, and the vulnerable.”

Kinney’s takeaway? “We must speak up.”

Kinney was not the only one shining the light of King’s legacy on recent events on Monday.

Lina Shayo stood among the nearly 350 gathered at St. George’s Cathedral. She said she’s been paying attention to things in the news, like what she called the “skirmish” between President Elect Trump, and long-time civil rights hero, Georgia Congressman John Lewis.

“It’s not over,” Shayo said, referring to the civil rights movement’s pivotal year of 1963, “it’s still the fight happening today.”

Shayo is an immigration lawyer who was at the event supporting Eva Castillo, who received this year’s Martin Luther King Award for her work as an advocate for immigrants in New Hampshire.