Annual MLK celebration is a call to become more aware

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Annual MLK celebration is a call to become more aware
Naomi Gold, a member of the Westborough High School’s a cappella group, helps out at the children’s activity table during the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration on Monday, Jan. 16, at Westborough High School. (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

WESTBOROUGH – It was a celebration, but it was also a call to challenge.

During the fifth annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration on Monday, Jan. 16, at Westborough High School, keynote speaker Ron Jones spoke of the need to become more aware of what’s going on in the country.

“We’re at a turning point right now,” said Jones, the executive director of Dialogues with Dignity. “We can never go back … social issues have reached a critical mass.”

Instead of using hate and intimidation to bring issues forth, Jones uses love and listening.

“It’s not about changing minds, it’s about softening hearts,” he said.

Jones reminded the audience that when King was assassinated in April 1968, “he was the most hated man in America” because King wanted radical changes to American society, especially when it came to poverty.

“We need to remember that doing the right thing is not always comfortable,” said Congressman James McGovern (MA-02).

McGovern recalled going to Selma, Ala., several times with the late John Lewis, a member of Congress who marched with King in the 1960s.

“He always said that we should be good troublemakers,” said McGovern.

The event also featured an a cappella performance by Ball in the House (featuring Westborough High alum Kevin Cincotta-Guest), children’s activities and information on Westborough Connects.

“I’m happy that we’re back in person,” said Kelley Petralia, executive director for Westborough Connects. The celebration went virtual the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event was co-sponsored by the Westborough Interfaith Clergy, Westborough Public Schools, Central MA Connections and Westborough Connects.

Partial grant funding was provided by the Westborough Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Mass. Cultural Council.

Other events

Children and their caregivers are invited to participate in Westborough Connects’ third StoryWalk at Hastings Elementary School. The story, “What the Road Said” by Cleo Wade, will be brought to life through a StoryWalk display sponsored by community member Nuray Wallace and home builder, Tolls Bros. 

The StoryWalk is self-led and will be accessible through the winter months.

Participants are also encouraged to visit Westborough Public Library’s MLK Day book displays during the month of January and Westborough’s Little Free Anti-Racist Library sponsored by WeCARE on the grounds of the YWCA Westborough, 15 Grove St.

As a follow up to this fifth annual MLK Jr. Day, participants are invited to participate in a “Journey Mapping Exercise” hosted by Central MA Connections in Faith and Westborough Connects on Saturday, Jan. 28, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Westborough High School Library. Through a small group format, adult and adolescent attendees will have the opportunity to explore King’s dream and how we can join the journey towards equality. 

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