The 14th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. community celebration took an online route this year, as expected, and enjoyed more than two hours of meditation, thoughtful words and community awards on Monday, Jan. 18.
In a joint effort of the Peoples AME Church, the Chelsea Black Community (CBC) and the City of Chelsea, the ceremony was moved online some time ago due to COVID-19 restrictions, but it didn’t completely take away the fun and thoughtful meditation on the life of MLK and what it means in Chelsea.
“We have seen the national discourse become very chaoitic over the last 12 months,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “With a change at the top levels of government, we hope things will move from violence and cruelty to decency and civility. Right will triumph in the end. Hope will push out fear. Love will push out hate and right will triumph in the end. I hope we can make Dr. King proud as we enter into 2021.”
Councilor Calvin Brown said 2020 saw a tremendous fight against the pandemic and injustice. He said in 2021 it will be a time to continue to work for justice and pray for love to win out.
Brian and Jenny Le from the Project Opening Doors also returned to the online ceremony, a reminder of how powerful Dr. King’s legacy is when one’s words move to action. Seven years ago, Jenny Le was one of the annual essay contest winners and she, along with friend Charlie Rustigian, hoped to end student homelessness and hunger in Chelsea. Since that time, the project has grown stronger, and led Brian Le to pursue service and leadership at Suffolk University, where he is a sophomore and a member of student government.
“Dr. King’s dream and our ceremony and my sister’s dream helped me to pursue my own dream – to be a leader,” said Brian Le.
This year the annual essay contest focused not on having a dream, but upon “being the dream” of Dr. King – a challenge that many students rose to the occasion for. The winners included:
•Elementary School Essay Winner, Whitney Andrade Maldonado, Kelly School, Grade 4.
•Elementary Poetry Winner, Isabel Iraheta, Sokolowski School, Grade 3.
•Middle School Essay Winner, Catherine Hernandez, Kelly School, Grade 6.
•Middle School Poetry Winner, Ariana Baires, Wright Middle School, Grade 7.
•High School Essay Winner, Misael Godoy-Nunez.
•High School Essay Winner, Desayna Christmas.
The community awards were also given out to several leaders who honored Dr. King’s legacy in serving during the pandemic or calling for the end to systemic racism in City government last summer.
The Young Adult Dream Awards went to:
•Monica Elias Orellana for working in St. Luke’s Food Pantry and as the organizer of the Chelsea Hill Community.
•Jayde Umemba was honored for organizing the Black Lives Matter march last summer, and with her brother, Kyle, forming a group with a list of changes to reform City government from its systemic barriers.
The Community Spirit Awards went to:
•Paul Nowicki of the Chelsea Housing Authority.
•Alex Train, City director of housing and community development.
•Lourdes Alvarez and Mimi Graney, City workers who showed tenacity during the response to COVID-19 in 2020.