The Hometown Weekly for all your latest local news and updates! Over 25 Years of Delivering Your Hometown News!  

Walpole celebrates MLK with candlelight vigil

[ccfic caption-text format="plaintext"]

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

On MLK Day, Walpole residents and members of the United Church braved the cold to gather on Walpole Common for a candlelight vigil in honor of the late Reverend and civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., before moving across the street into the church for more music and readings.

At the vigil, Adrienne Williams spoke of Dr. King’s humor (apparently, he talked about being a stand-up comic, had he not become a reverend) before leading the crowd in a couple of songs. Wiliams began with “Down By the Riverside,” a spiritual that predates the Civil War. Williams also sang the classic “This Little Light of Mine,” as well as “Steal Away to Jesus.”

After the vigil, everyone moved to the United Church, where Reverend Anna Flowers gave an opening prayer and noted that while it was uncomfortable outside in the cold, “the fight for justice requires us to be uncomfortable.”

The readings from Dr. King were designed to show a progression of his thoughts, so they were delivered in chronological order. First, Caleb Michaels read from “An Experiment in Love,” a 1958 essay that outlined his thoughts on nonviolence.

Despite the cold, many people came out to the MLK Day candlelight vigil and sang with Adrienne Williams.

Despite the cold, many people came out to the MLK Day candlelight vigil and sang with Adrienne Williams.

Reverend Aron Pratt Shepard next read from “The Rising Tide of Racial Consciousness,” a 1960 speech King delivered at the National Urban League’s Golden Anniversary conference. After this, Police Chief John Carmichael, Jr. spoke of what he has learned from the works of Dr. King, and how it has impacted his policing, saying, in part, how much he learned from the “Letters From a Birmingham Jail” and how much he loves the famous quote: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Carmichael spoke of the Obama administration’s 2014 Task Force on 21st Century Policing, and how the police must work to address their “implicit and explicit biases.”

After Carmichael spoke of how much he appreciated the “Letters From a Birmingham Jail,” Reverend John Healy read from that piece of writing. To break up the readings, Doug Arnold next played guitar and sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

“In this church we often ask what would Jesus do?” Arnold said to the crowd. “But today, let’s ask what would Martin do. And I think that answer is to sing out loud.”

The final two pieces were “A Time to Break Silence,” as read by Reverend Phil Michaels, and “The Drum Major Instinct,” read by Christen Mills. Along with a trip to Alabama, where he met an organist MLK hired and came face-to-face with the horrors of slavery when he visited the Legacy Museum, this work by King was hugely impactful to Philip Czachorowski, who provided the final thoughts on the night. After reflecting on the impacts of slavery and injustice that are still being felt today, Czachorowski told the crowd that “with any little thing we can do, we can be the drum major.”

Finally, members of the crowd dispersed as Williams and Arnold sang “We Shall Overcome,” reflecting on how they plan on addressing injustice the other 364 days of the year - not just on this federal holiday.

Comments are closed.