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“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

                                                                                                        -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

About fifty people attended the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration held Thursday, January 12 in Conference Room D of the headquarter for Advocates, a social service agency in Framingham, MA. The event marked Advocates third annual King remembrance.  The two-hour program interspersed poetry and music between the reading of a chapter from King’s Stride Toward Freedom: the Montgomery Story chronicling his intellectual pilgrimage to nonviolence. I gave a short reflection on the nonviolent power that is always available to us, even in difficult times.

Advocates Diversity Advisory Council organized the event, as they do every year. People of varying hue and physical capabilities attended which is why this King commemorative is one of my favorites. The morning concluded with a collective reading of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. When the text was passed to the deaf among us, they signed their passage. It was beautiful to watch their flying fingers and animated faces. King’s words are just as soaring when seen as when heard.

On Sunday, January 15, Center intern Devra Goldstein and I did a presentation on women in the civil rights struggle of the American South for a girls leadership program at Worcester’s YWCA. The Center is currently recruiting teen girls to do a public reading of civil rights texts featuring women.Devra and I showed a chapter from Steve York’s A Force More Powerful on the nonviolent campaign to integrate the Nashville lunch counters, then read excerpts from Gwendolyn Simmons’ riveting essay about her evolution from sweet Memphis girl to gutsy field coordinator for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in rural Mississippi.

All over the country these past few days, pockets of Americans were reflecting on King’s legacy and the application of nonviolence to the struggle for black civil rights. Thinking about that gives me a lot of heart. Immersing ourselves in this history empowers us for the work ahead.