NEWBURGH – It’s hard to believe that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has been gone for 52 years. However, the 2020 celebration marks the 52nd anniversary of Dr. King’s death, and is the 51st annual memorial activity for the City of Newburgh community. The first service was held on January 15, 1969, his first birthday after his April 4, 1968 assassination.
As is there tradition, the Black History Committee of the Hudson Valley celebrated the national holiday with a full day of programs at Ebenezer Baptist Church.
More than 100 people were treated to an assortment of educational activities.
Adults were provided a panel discussion moderated by Ramona Burton with the topic of education. Phillip Howard, Malinda Ware, and Dr. Satina Williams spoke on various aspects of education from its importance, social and economic benefits, barriers and parent involvement.
Howard, a member of the Newburgh Enlarged City School District Board of Education, spoke about new initiatives by the district such as FACE (Family and Community Engagement). He also touched upon Emergent Learning and the importance of parents reading and communicating with their children from birth to help build vocabulary. “Engage your children intellectually so they can become engaged from a literacy perspective,” Howard said.
Fellow panelist Ware echoed Howard’s remarks and added, “We are at a critical point in our history. Be involved in your community.” Ware sits on several boards and is a Human Rights Commissioner. She implored people to attend meetings and find out what’s going on the community so they can be a part of the decision-making process.
While those discussion were being had, the youth were separated into age appropriate workshops upstairs. Shawana Newkirk-Reynolds, Vanessa Rice, Areeda Cotton, Gabrielle Hill, Glenda Crawford, Mary Reef, Robin Pettway and Israel Jackson facilitated the youth workshops. Each tackled a different age group with age appropriate lessons on the importance of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy.
Middle and High School students read various Dr. King speeches and had in depth discussions on civil rights issues, while the younger ones were engaged in more general conversations on King, his accomplishments in life, and of his dream of a beloved community.
Elder Patricia Murray said its important to the Black History Committee of the Hudson Valley to provide this program, “not only to the older generation, but to the younger generation, so they can pull together. We want the whole community, the whole world, to come together, because if we learn to come together, we can come together to fight for the same cause – justice for all.”
King taught generations of Americans that nothing is insurmountable, no dream is too big and no calling too great. In his everlasting words, “everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.”