A community celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy was held at Third Baptist Church on Kent Ave on Sunday, January 15. Supported in part by Suffield’s Interfaith Council, representatives of several faiths (Christian, Baha’i, Muslim and Jewish) spoke about their continuing connections to the legacy of MLK, Jr. Several spoke about how MLK’s legacy has continued to be a driving force for change in our country.
The main speaker, Rev. Marilyn B. Kendrix, a member of the Southern New England Conference of United Church of Christ is a Bridge Conference Minister and part of the Social Justice Preaching Ministry. She spoke eloquently, referencing MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech calling attention to a part of the speech that is less often mentioned. “…There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied?’ We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating, ‘For Whites Only’. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote, and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Rev. Kendrix also spoke about her work raising awareness of mass incarceration in the U.S.
Some of the more inspiring parts of the evening were provided by the Interfaith Community Choir accompanied by Nate Dorsey on the piano. While the choir was small, the sound and energy were huge and uplifting.
A collection from the congregation was given to support the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society. Founded in 1989 by Bryan Stevenson, a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer and bestselling author of Just Mercy. EJI is a private, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to people who have been illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced, or abused in state jails and prisons. EJI challenges the death penalty and excessive punishment and provides re-entry assistance to formerly incarcerated people.
A truly inspiring evening was capped off by an invitation for food and fellowship which was enjoyed by many.