By Deborah Washington, MLK Committee Member
On Monday, January 17th, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m the People’s A.M.E. Church and the Chelsea Community presented the Annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Celebration Breakfast at the Chelsea High School. Everyone gathered with great anticipation around the theme “RAISING THE STANDARD – DARE TO DREAM AND BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.”
This celebration was emotional, spiritual and heartwarming as the residents of Chelsea and elected city and state officials gathered together to celebrate the accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr King broke down the barrier of racial injustice, economic injustice, social injustice, and who led the Civil Rights Movement. His efforts earned the right for every human being to vote as citizens of our great nation regardless of the color of your skin.
The keynote speaker was Reverend Hurmon E. Hamilton. He is the Pastor of the Roxbury Presbyterian Church in Boston and the President of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization and the Founder of the Dream Again Initiative.
Reverend Hamilton gave a heart-rending message. Some faces had a tear falling from their eyes. The Reverend spoke about the prophet Isaiah’s words when he saw a vision in the temple and found himself responding to the call “who will go, who can I send?” And the prophet said, here I am send me! Reverend Hamilton shared how it is easy for most of us to look at the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr and think there is no way for me to achieve what he did. However, Rev Hamilton said, Dr King was an ordinary man who became extraordinaire. Like the prophet Isaiah, Dr King was willing to go and serve when he saw a need. Reverend Hamilton gave his own personal testimony about his life. As a child, he experienced an allergic reaction to medication that left him scarred physically for life. How he “acted out” in school the way he felt…he felt ugly he acted ugly, he felt dumb, he acted dumb until one day in the school’s boys restroom he had an epiphany. He asked God for three things, it turned his life around and he to overcame odds of an ordinary youth becoming extraordinaire.
We also had the Chelsea High School Cantare led by Mr. Nichols. The Cantare peformed “How Great Thou Art and My Tribute.” The young performers were Chelsea Alvarez, Diana Batista, Kelvin Lazo, Guillermo Aguilluz, Jackie Elias, Jessica Buruca, Zavier Martin, George Elias, Ledia Koco, Alicia Cosme, Walter Lainez, Yen Pham, Kristie Dwyer, Joe Mata, Thalia Pliego, Amanda Guzman Brea, Bryan Pinelas, Kariana Sipple, Vanessa Iraheta, Kassandra Toro, Sary Morales, Jenny Valle, and Arandeni Ramos.
Greetings were given by the State Representative Eugene O’Flaherty and Senator Sal DiDomenico who will provide citations to the award winners. The public school essay contest winners read their essays and received loud applause and a standing ovation. The winners were Brian Quinonez 4th grade from the Hooks Elementary School, Sherly Jose 5th grade from the Wright Middle School, and Nelsy Hoyos Rosas 12th grade from the Chelsea High School. The Chelsea public school students were asked to participate in the essay contest. The teachers and principals sent their students’ essays to Dr. Thomas Kingston and his staff, who determined the final winners for the Public School Essay Contest. Based on this year’s theme “RAISING THE STANDARD – DARE TO DREAM AND BELIEVE IN YOURSELF,” the public school students were asked to write an essay giving their response to one or all of the following questions:
1. How has Dr Martin Luther King, Jr’s dream come alive in your life, your family, your school, your community, and in America?
2. In 1963, Dr King’s dream was that one day right there in Alabama he’d see little black boys and black girls be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers… Has his dream come true in this country? What is your dream that will help us as a nation live in harmony as one “free at last…free at last?”
3. How will believing in yourself help this nation to not judge others by the color of their skin?
The second category of winners were the Young Adult Dreamers and Achievers Award (YADA) won by Terrell James and Leondra Michelle Hawkesworth, who are building a sense of community and mutual responsibility through service projects making an impact on all ethnic groups. The third category was the Spirit Award winners. Three individuals serving Chelsea and making a tremendous mark in the community: Councilor Leo Robinson, Attorney Cheryl Watson, and last year’s speaker Mr Arnold Cox received these awards. These winners were the result of nominations submitted by city residents and city organizations for the Spirit Award and Young Adult Dreamers and Achievers Award (YADA) to the MLK Committee.
The chairperson of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Committee is Pastor Sandra Whitley of People’s A.M.E Church Chelsea. The MLK committee members are: Reverend Kenneth Whitley, Co-Pastor of People’s A.M.E. Church, Mrs Susan Clark, Director of Choice through Education; Chelsea City Councilor and Deacon Calvin T. Brown; Mr Kennel Etienne, Chelsea Boys and Girls Club, 2010 Young Adult Dreamers and Achievers Award Winner, Youth and Young Adult Coalition Coordinator; Ms Laura Gil-Sanchez, FUEL and REACH Program Coordinator, Youth and Young Adult Coalition; Mrs Beverly Martin- Ross, Steward of the People’s A.M.E. Church; City Councilor & Delegate to the Chelsea School Committee Deborah A. Washington; and Captain Dan Brunelle, Pastor, local Salvation Army.
Mrs Shirley Thompson “stepped up to the plate” assist the committee in the absence of a member called away on emergency due to death in the family. She formed a team of volunteers comprised of Ms Marlene Tyler, Ms Jeannette Washington and Ms Claire Facey. She collaborated with Ms Gina Guange at the Wyndham Hotel ensuring the breakfast was well organized. On the other hand, young adult Ms Laura Gil-Sanchez organized a team of greeters and hostesses from the students of the FUEL and REACH programs. Together they created an atmosphere of warmth and hospitality ensuring all who attended were welcomed.
This event had the participation from all over Chelsea. It showed us that our hopes to fulfill the dream can be achieved. We can all live, work, and play together not based on the color of our skin but by the content of our character.
If you did not make it to this year’s Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast Celebration, then we look forward to seeing you next year.