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People Urged To Take Action At Annual MLK Service [VIDEOS]

Large crowd participates in march from New London City Hall and subsequent gathering at Shiloh Baptist Church

Political and religious leaders remembered the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King on Monday, taking part in an annual celebration recognizing the holiday named for the late civil rights icon.

The service started in front of , with a march proceeding to with a brief stop in front of the . City Councilor Wade Hyslop, who described King as his mentor, told the attendees that they would be able to get many things accomplished if they work together as a community.

During the service, most speakers made calls to action. Rev. Benjamin Green, the pastor of the Evans Memorial AME Zion Church in Norwich and president of the Southeastern Connecticut Ministerial Alliance, said he attends the march because King also marched. Green said he enjoys the freedoms he does today because of King’s work, and encouraged the audience to remember those who fought for their own freedom.

“Hate cannot drive out hate,” said Green. “Only love can do that.”

Superintendent Nicholas Fischer of the said one of King’s concerns was the harm that could be done by the inaction of good people. He asked people to commit to raising standards, providing adequate educational funds, and otherwise supporting New London children.

“Are we waiting for excellence or have we committed ourselves to help make it happen?” asked Fischer.

Mayor Daryl Finizio said he feels King’s dream is embodied by the diversity of New London. He said one goal of his administration will be to ensure that when he appears at the 2013 event that “we have a government here in New London that looks like the people of New London.”

Finizio said that New London is facing difficulties such as underperforming schools and a strained municipal budget, but that the issues are not insurmountable. He said the power to address such matters lies with the residents of the city.

“In the days ahead, in the years ahead, we here in New London will be called upon to answer many challenges,” said Finizio.

Rep. Joe Courtney said people must be vigilant about proposals for voter identification, saying only limited types of IDs would be acceptable. He compared the proposal to poll taxes, which were once used to disenfranchise black voters.

Courtney said he saw King’s dream of a more equal world embodied in a number of events over the past year, including the Occupy Wall Street movement and Arab Spring uprisings.

“The spirit of Dr. King is, in my opinion as I think in everybody’s opinion who watched these events closely, was infused in these events,” said Courtney.

Courtney also presented Bishop Benjamin Watts, the pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church, with a commemorative set of red dog tags given at a showing of Red Tails which he attended with veterans. This upcoming movie tells the story of a crew of Tuskegee airmen in World War II.

“I’m not a film critic, but I’ll tell you this: it’s a great movie,” said Courtney.

Rabbi Aaron Rosenberg, of the Temple Emanu-El in Waterford, said the holiday inspires people to tap into their own sources of spirituality and strength.

“The dream is not yet fulfilled. There is still much work to be done, and it inspires us to go forth and make that dream become reality,” said Rosenberg.

Felicia Hendersen January 17, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Superintendent Nicholas Fischer of the New London Public Schools said one of King’s concerns was the harm that could be done by the inaction of good people. He asked people to commit to raising standards, providing adequate educational funds, and otherwise supporting New London children. But be very careful if you take the action to raise standards or correct a wrong be prepared to fall out of grace with those in power. Much of this is political fodder and not something that they (those speaking) actually want put into practice.
Alan Green, Jr. January 17, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Felicia writes: Much of this is political fodder and not something that they (those speaking) actually want put into practice. If she'd been there, she'd know these people ALL spoke from the heart. The good thing was, those IN power were there. Grace was upon them all yesterday.
Kathleen Mitchell January 17, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Felicia, You made the comment "Much of this is political fodder and not something that they (those speaking) actually want put into practice." Would you mind explaining how you came to know what "those speaking actually want?"
Felicia Hendersen January 17, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Kathleen you well know how it is. If you stand on the side of what is right and lawful you are then putting yourself in line to be on the outs with those in power that may have breached what is right and lawful in the course of their tenure. Alan cannot keep the facts straight as he comments and when he contradicts himself he attempts to trivialize what those he supported have done. Come on people open your eyes. For example Dr. Fischer of all people to preach involvement. What baloney when parents get involved and question the school administrations actions, expenditures or anything the parents are put off. Many in power preach involvement but they neither want or accept it when it happens unless it is in line with the motives and mission of those in power. This is the norm not the exception. Will you Alan support the enforcement of all laws and policies that have been violated or breached regardless of who breached them or who thinks they are ok to break and violate? Simple question. Answer yes or no! No matter what the law is, follow it or work to change it, do not ignore it. Do you agree 100%. Do not answer too quickly because an real life example may be put before you to test you. Are you up to the test? Make a stand for justice and what is right, here and now. Then move forward. I know Kathleen will support the following of the laws.
Rick Lushay January 17, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Alan Green Jr., Felicia makes some very good points. It looks like you have been called out Alan. Time to put up or shut up! I know I will pledge to support any and all who stand up against those that have broken a law or violated a policy. Will you do the same Alan Green Jr, Alan De Vars and the rest of those out there that make excuses for what others have done? No risks here stand up for what is right because it is the right thing to stand up for. No discrimination at all against anyone. That is what has been preached. That includes discriminating against those that point out and highlight the wrongs in our society as a whole. On this we cannot choose to be selective. It is an all or none decision.
Aaron Rosenberg January 17, 2012 at 11:48 PM
kudos to the Ministerial Alliance, Shiloh Baptist and Rev. Benjamin Watts for putting this MLK program together every year.
Debbie January 18, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Every year we march in order to empower ourselves for yet another year of abuse and neglect. Yes, the struggle continues each and everyday, and so will the many groups for equality will remain to fight for our collective rights until the end, regardless of decisions being made in Washington DC, Hartford or New London, CT.

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