For the last 16 years, since Martin Luther King Day was approved as a statewide holiday here in New Hampshire, Sandi Clarke of Newington has put together evenings of gospel and dramatic readings to remember and reflect on the civil rights leaders legacy. NHPR's Sean Hurley spoke to Clarke and has this preview of tonight's "Set the House on Fire" event at the Newington Town Church.
Sandi Clarke grew up the racially mixed town of Elmira, New York. But when she was 14, her family's house burned down and they were forced to relocate to the all white town of Elmira Heights.
You know we moved in, this black family - and not even a small one, there were 12 of us - moved into this white neighborhood and there were a lot of people didn't like it. That was the first time that prejudice really slapped me in the face.
But even before that Clarke knew about racism and wanted to do something about it.
You know I was in grammar school during a lot of the civil rights movement and at that time I wanted to go to the March on Washington and my mother said no. So I always kind of felt a void all my life like there was something that I wanted to do that I should have done. And about 16 years ago, I decided that I would like to do a celebration of Dr. King and his dreams - his legacy.
And every year since, at community halls, theaters and churches, Clarke has put together evenings of music and spoken word to remember Dr. King. Tonight's event, titled "Set the House on Fire" at the Newington Town Church will feature the music of the Funky Divas of Gospel and readings from the work of both Dr. King and Nelson Mandela.