Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration in Glens Falls

I recently received the following press release:

Contact: Matt Funiciello at mattfuniciello @ earthlink.net

The Glens Falls Martin Luther King Committee announced today that the 2008 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Commemoration will be held Monday, January 21, 2008 in Glens Falls.

Adirondack Native Dr. Alice Green will be the Keynote Speaker of the day’s events with a speech entitled “Doctor King: From Dreamer to Revolutionary.” Dr. Green is the co-founder and Executive Director of The Center for Law and Justice, a non-profit community organization that monitors criminal justice activities, provides legal assistance and criminal justice advocacy, organizes efforts to change social policy and empowers poor people and people of color. She entered the 2005 Mayor's race in Albany running as the Green Party's candidate in which she garnered an impressive 28% of the vote.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most important leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in America. Dr. King led the Montgomery Bus Boycott, helped to found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech during the March on Washington in 1963. Dr. King vociferously opposed the Viet Nam War and became the youngest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Price. He was assassinated forty years ago this April 4 while in Memphis, Tennessee, to support striking black sanitary public works employees, represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

Dr. King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter in 1977.

Although James Earl Ray was arrested, convicted and imprisoned for Dr. King’s murder, in 1999 Dr. King’s widow Coretta Scott King, along with the rest of King's family, won a wrongful death civil trial against Loyd Jowers and “other unknown co-conspirators.” Jowers claimed to have received $100,000 to arrange King's assassination. The jury of six whites and six blacks found Jowers guilty and that “governmental agencies were parties” to the assassination plot.

Martin Luther King Day was established as a national holiday in the United States in 1986, but it wasn’t until 2000 that all 50 states officially observed the holiday for the first time. Before 2000 the holiday was not observed by New Hampshire, Arizona, or South Carolina and in Virginia, the holiday was added on to Lee-Jackson Day, a day meant to honor confederate generals, and became Lee-Jackson-King Day. Although the day is now a universally celebrated federal and state holiday, it is usually not observed by American corporations.

The event will begin at 4:30 pm on the steps of Glens Falls City Hall with remarks from local politicians, including Glens Falls Mayor Roy Akins and Assemblywoman Theresa Sayward. At 5 pm, following their brief remarks, marchers will proceed to Christ Church at 54 Bay Street where a public program commemorating and celebrating the life, work, and message of Dr. King will be held beginning at 5:30 pm.

The public event at Christ Church will feature an opening prayer, music and hymns by a community choir and local musicians, readings from Doctor King and the keynote speech given by Dr. Alice Green. A reception with baked goods and hot beverages donated by local businesses will follow.

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