By Rama K. Ramaswamy
Martin Luther King Jr. was an American, Christian minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955-1968. While he worked for equal rights for all, his leadership contributed to the overall success of the civil rights movement which continues to impact civil rights to date. His message of change through peaceful means added to the movement's numbers and gave it its moral strength; while he and his fellow leaders generated momentous strides for equality, the push for civil rights remains a preeminent challenge.
In keeping with the World Of Wellesley’s mission with regard to diversity, inclusion and equity and education and as the community celebrates the life and leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., not only are his words remembered, but also his courage and sacrifice in the service of justice. His speeches can best be described as powerful, inspiring and devastating in their truth; they were drawn from a deep well of courage, his belief in the obligation of every human being to fight for justice, and from his genuine love for humanity. Nelson Mandela said the following about Dr. King and his legacy: “Let the strivings of us all prove Martin Luther King, Jr. to have been correct when he said that humanity can no longer be tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war. Let the efforts of us all prove that he was not a mere dreamer when he spoke of the beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace being more precious than diamonds or silver or gold. Let a new age dawn!" The World of Wellesley sponsors the town’s annual MLK Day event to remember and celebrate the man and his legacy, and to pay forward his message of choosing to love over the carrying the burden of hatred. As always, WOW’s program is free of charge and welcomes all. Due to the pandemic, the January 18 program will be virtual.
According to Co-President Christina Horner, this year’s program is different from what’s been done previously, but is particularly relevant. “First of all," explains Horner, "it was organized by a multi-racial and multi-general group. The group is steadfast in its belief that the day should be a call to action. Over the years, the World of Wellesley has been steadily moving beyond its core values of tolerance and diversity. Instead, we are a group of volunteers who are striving to be anti-racist as well. We can't achieve this without continuous self-reflection and being intentional about learning representative history and we invite the community to learn with us. For some reason, many of us have forgotten or may have never known that the fight for civil rights didn't begin and end with Dr. King. Additionally, we don't want the day to go by without making it known that Dr. King fought against poverty, as well as racism and war. We should too."
The programing for this year’s event began (December 2020) with a 30-day countdown towards MLK Day, "Good Trouble: More Than Just a Day - A Call To Action," which, upon registration, delivers facts about Dr. King, the civil rights movement, and some of his most inspirational quotes daily, right to your email inbox. It’s ongoing and there’s still time to register until January 17; however, that’s just the teaser.
The main program is a line-up of the following choice morsels to choose from: The MLK Virtual ‘Breakfast’ 2021 is a multi-generational and multi-racial community discussion. You are invited to engage, in groups, for brave conversations about Dr. King’s speech, "The Other America," and its relevance to the challenges we all continue to face today. The Good Trouble Short Story Book Group (Grades 8-12) will be facilitated by Wellesley Public School Students and focus on a short piece from chapter thirteen of Sterling Hayden’s "Wanderer" (you may search for a PDF online or access the reading in the document provided on WOW’s website (https://worldofwellesley.org/events/our-events/). The Good Trouble Workshop is a virtual interactive art workshop for students in grades K-7. Student art will be displayed at the Wellesley Public Library (details to follow) and lastly, The MLK Day Family Storytime is a virtual event designed for children and families of all ages to listen together to the book, "Vitamin D and Me" by Michelle Chalmers, an amazing story of how and why human beings have different color skin tones. This engagement is designed to encourage open conversations and questions which the non-profit hopes will be a community “take-away” concept.
“Our hope for the day is that those who participate will engage in the conversations that so many community members have said they wanted," Horner explained. "We want folks to move beyond the ‘feel good’ breakfast and make Good Trouble so that we can make Wellesley, and our country, a better place. The recent insurrection at our nation’s capital proves that we need this more now than ever before.”
A national memorial to Dr. King was built near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., where Dr. King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. The memorial invites visitors to reflect on King’s life and legacy, as does the World of Wellesley, with a view towards positive change for all.