By Phyllis Boros
Youngsters and their families will be able to mark the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with events throughout the region.
The Norwalk Public Schools' Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Committee will host, free of charge, the "Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On , Not A Day Off" celebration from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at West Rocks Middle School, 81 West Rocks Road, Norwalk. The theme this year is " Sustaining The Legacy Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." The keynote speaker will be Gwen Edwards, host of News 12 Connecticut's "Our Lives."
Special music will be provided by Brookside Elementary School students. Participants are invited to attend activities and workshops for adults, young adults, youth and children in celebration of the life, beliefs and vision of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"We will, once again, be challenged to translate Dr. King's dreams into positive individual and collective action to ensure racial equality, mutual respect and tolerance," commented, Rosa Murray, chairperson of the Norwalk Public Schools Martin Luther King Day Committee.
"Martin Luther King Day is a day to celebrate the efforts and accomplishments of a great leader. It is a day to act, it is a day on, not a day off. It is a day to reflect, as individuals and community at large, where we are in terms of fulfilling and sustaining `The Dream,' " noted Murray.
"This year marks the 25th anniversary observance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. As a community and nation we need to promote and sustain his message of nonviolent activism. Further, we must strive to become the `beloved community,' " remarked Bruce Morris, Norwalk Public Schools' director of human relations.
The Committee will recognize the following organizations for their exemplary service to Norwalk students: A.C.H.I.E.V.E., George Washington Carver Community Foundation and The Courage To Speak.
The them will be "Highlighting our Youth."
Then on Monday there will be a Community Prayer Breakfast at 8 a.m. at West Rocks Middle School, 81 West Rocks Road, Norwalk. Tickets are $15.
The theme will be "Embracing King's Spirit of Unity: Accentuating What We Hold In Common." A panel presentation will feature a Rabbi, a minister, and an imam, as representatives of the Abrahamic Faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The day culminates in a city-wide program at 7 p.m. at the Concert Hall at Norwalk City Hall. The guest speaker will be Rev. Dr. Jeffrey A. Ingraham, chairman of MLK Committee and Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in South Norwalk. The event will feature the MLK Choir under the direction of Bro. Hughie Askew.
These activities are open to all. Reservations for the breakfast may be made by calling (203) 838-3176. All funds raised from these activities will go towards scholarships for Norwalk students pursuing post-secondary education.
The Field of Hope carnival, designed to appeal to families looking for creative destinations on this school holiday, will feature such activities as face painting and old-fashioned games.
Numerous organizations will be on hand to disseminate information and free brochures on family literacy, nutrition and UB health and wellness programs. Representatives of the Bridgeport Fire Department will distribute vouchers for free fire detectors; free hats, gloves and scarves will be given to children.
Athletic and sports demonstrations also will be presented, including those by members of the university's gymnastics program.
"We want to this to be fun as well as meaningful, in keeping with the spirit of Martin Luther King," said Edina Oestreicher, assistant dean of student affairs and an event organizer.
Meanwhile, Yale Peabody Museum is hosting a free event featuring performances and activities espousing King's environmental and social justice concerns on Sunday and Monday, Jan. 16 and 17.
Music and dance, educational activities and an invitational poetry slam drawing poets from around the country will highlight the Peabody event.
Sunday's activities will feature storytelling and teen diversity workshops focusing on Dr. King's message. Performances scheduled for Sunday include the African Arawak Connection, Yale Bhangra Dance Troupe, and Pam, Jam, and Lime Steel Band.
Monday's featured event is the annual Invitational Zannette Lewis Environmental and Social Justice Poetry Slam, an event that brings poets from around the country to compete. It is named in honor of a Peabody volunteer and champion of the MLK celebration who died last year.
Also taking place on Monday is the Zannette Lewis Environmental and Social Justice Community Poetry Open Mic, an opportunity for people of all ages to share their original poetry or rap and speak their minds on issues of justice and injustice. Pre-registration is required. Performing Monday in the Great Hall will be Boogie Chillun, Brian Jarawa Gray and Friends, the New Haven Breakdancers, and Kouffin Kanecke Company, among others. Michael Mills will lead the drum circle finale. An Afro-Caribbean folk doll workshop will also be offered.
In Stamford, Saturday, Jan. 15, will mark a day of service, as well as fun. Stamford's Trailblazers Academy will be a hub for volunteers and spectators, who will get a chance to hear guest speakers and performers, including singers Rain Rapheal and Omar Wilson, poets and dancers. There also will be a re-enactment of King's speeches.
On Monday, Jan. 17, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich will host its annual "Martin Luther King Jr. Family Day Celebration."
This year's theme, "Our Civil Rights" features special performances by Young Audiences of Connecticut's Collective Consciousness Theater presenting "Struggle for Freedom" at 11 a.m. and again at 1 p.m.
This program, suitable for students in grades 5 and up, or with parent/guardian guidance, gives voice to nine of those considered the country's greatest freedom fighters. Three actors will bring to life the struggles of the civil rights period and beyond.
Students of all ages and abilities also have the opportunity to visit the Museum's Education Workshop to make "I have a dream" buttons and add their self-portraits to the Circle of Friends mural.
Meanwhile, The Gunnery school will mark King's life and legacy with a program on Friday, Jan. 14, at 7 p.m., at the First Congregational Church Meeting House on the Green in Washington.
The event will feature drummer and choreographer Roderick Jackson of Palms Down Inc., who will invite audience members to join him on stage.
University of Bridgeport's Wheeler Recreation Center is at 400 University Ave., Bridgeport. Monday, Jan. 17, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. 203-576-4938, www.bridgeport.edu. Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History is at 170 Whitney Ave., New Haven. Sunday, Jan. 16, noon-4:30 p.m.; Monday, Jan. 17, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Free. 203-432-5050, wwwyalepeabody.edu. Trailblazers Academy Middle School is at 83 Lockwood Ave., Stamford. Saturday, Jan. 15, 9 a.m.-noon. Free. firstname.lastname@example.org, www.MLKchallenge.org. The Bruce Museum is at 1 Museum Drive in Greenwich.Monday, Jan. 17, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free with admission. $7; $6 seniors, students; free under 5. 203-869-0376, www.brucemuseum.org. First Congregational Church Meeting House is at 99 Green Hill Road, Washington. Friday, Jan. 14, 7 p.m. Free. 860-868-7334, ext 251.