Community events in observance of MLK

BRATTLEBORO — On Monday, at 5:30 p.m. there will be a celebration in honor of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Centre Congregational Church, 193 Main St.

The service will include representatives of many faith traditions, readings from Dr. King, an update from state senator Becca Balint regarding initiatives being taken around the state and in the Legislature. Well-known Blues guitarist Scott Ainslie is the featured musician and Andy Davis will lead a community choir. The celebration will end with an encouragement by Steffen Gillom of the local NAACP and the lighting of candles by everyone in attendance. Singers of all ages and abilities are encouraged to come to the church by 4:20 to rehearse songs for the service.

This event is sponsored by Brattleboro Area Interfaith Leadership and is a wonderful opportunity for people of all ages, faiths, races and ethnicities to come together to remember the work of Dr. King, to celebrate all that unites us and to learn about local community organizations working against racism. Admission is free, but a goodwill donation will be taken with proceeds shared between the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity and the Root Social Justice Center.

A community gathering to include food will follow the celebration on the lower level of the church. The Root Social Justice Center, Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity, the Vermont Poor People's Campaign, Youth for Change, NAACP, People of Color Caucus, Lost River Racial Justice Group and other local group working for racial justice will all offer information and make short presentations on how people can be involved locally to work against racism. For more information about this event, contact Guilford Community Church, U.C.C. at 802-257-2776.

- St. Michael's Episcopal will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday, in recognition of the call of faith to work toward racial healing, especially at this time.

St. Michael's Episcopal Church is located at 16 Bradley Ave. Starting at 10:45 a.m., Charles Mays Jr. will speak on the context of the challenges and joys of his own life about what racial healing might look like. Mays is no stranger to Brattleboro, having sung at the Marlboro Festival and on many occasions for St. Michael's Music Director, Susan Dedell.

Mays will also lead the 9 a.m. Adult Forum the same morning. While planning for his visit, the Social Justice Committee asked Mays several questions: "What does a black man have to say to a predominantly white congregation on MLK Sunday?"     "What can white allies offer African Americans?" "Do you see signs of hope?"

When he accepted the invitation to spend the morning at St. Michael's, Mays wrote "I will hope I can offer something to challenge and inspire the congregation to introspection resulting in outward action."

Mays was raised and nurtured in the Southern Baptist tradition of singing and piano playing. He went on to study voice, culminating in doctoral studies at the Hartt School of Music, where his dissertation topic was the Middle Passage development of the spiritual. Mays' ties to the Brattleboro community began when he

was invited to participate in the Marlboro Music Festival. He was selected to be a touring member of Marlboro Festival and was in residence for three seasons. Following that, Mays won the Metropolitan Opera Young Artist Award.

- In observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, all Brattleboro Town Offices will be closed on Monday with the exception of emergency services.

Parking is free at all metered spaces and in the pay-and-display lots Monday. All other violations will be enforced.

Brooks Memorial Library will be closed Monday. Trash, recycling, and composting will be picked up on the regular schedule.

Those services are NOT affected by the holiday.

Any questions about the BeeLine Bus should be directed to The Current at 1-888-869-6287 or

- The Brattleboro Food Co-op will host social justice and activist groups in the store throughout the Monday. The goal is have Co-op Shareholders and shoppers engage with local organizations that may need support through volunteering, board service or just over-all engagement.

"According to MLK, 'the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others,'" said co-op employee Ruth Garbus. "Whether it's Groundworks Collaborative assisting with food and shelter, Time Trade empowering people through valuing their work, or Brattleboro Community Justice Center constructively resolving conflicts, there are so many people doing so much — and being deeply rewarded for their work. The co-op is proud to serve a community so committed to creating a wonderful world in very concrete ways, and happy to help increase involvement."

The day-long event is in part a celebration of community service, and a way for the co-op to announce an increase of support for local volunteering: as of this month, co-op shareholders will be able to use community volunteer time to get a discount on their purchases for up to four months per year. By inviting these organizations, the BFC hopes to encourage shoppers to lend a helping hand, and seeks to exemplify the empowering, inclusive nature of the cooperative model.


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