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Sue Bush
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Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration: "Together We Can"

By Krystal Grow
12:00AM / Monday, January 15, 2007

North Adams Mayor John Barrett III presented Donald and Sally Goodrich with a Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee Peacemaker Award during a Jan. 15 event that honored King's memory and civil rights legacy. [Photo by Paul Guillotte]
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North Adams -“Together we can,” sang dozens of voices, and not even an icy Jan. 15 morning subdued notes of hope that echoed through a Martin Luther King Day celebration at the city's First Baptist Church.

The program's message was one of tolerance, understanding and enlightenment through education.

A diverse group represented numerous religions and racial and cultural backgrounds. The culturally varied gathering was united for solid purpose: to honor King, remember his civil rights activism, and acknowledge his continued societal impact nearly 39 years after he was slain in Memphis.


State Rep. Daniel E. Bosley was the featured speaker during a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at the First Baptist Church in North Adams. Bosley received a standing ovation when he stepped to the podium to speak.[Photo by Paul Guillotte]
Had he lived, King would have celebrated his 78th birthday on Jan. 15. King was 35 years old in 1964 when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest person to receive the prize at that time.

King donated the financial award of $54,123 toward the advance of the civil rights movement.

Peacemaker Award

Celebration committee members traditionally honor area residents who strive to continue King’s legacy and promote peace and understanding.

This year's Peacemaker Award was presented to Sally and Donald Goodrich, a Bennington, Vt. couple who relied upon King’s example to overcome their own personal tragedy, and bring a message of tolerance and understanding to others.

Sally and Donald Goodrich's son, Peter, was killed at the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001. The grief-stricken couple turned their personal pain into a remarkable gain for others when they established the Peter M. Goodrich Memorial Foundation. Through numerous donations and a personal dedication to understanding and tolerance, the foundation erected a school in Afghanistan.

Students are educated at the school and the education includes a sharing of cultures.

From The Spirit Of A Son

While accepting the award, the couple appeared modest and humble and offered a few words of gratitude to the entire community. Donald Goodrich spoke with emotion about the project.

“This is something that rises from the spirit of our son, something positive,” Don Goodrich said. “There is hope, and we can make a difference. Even if that difference is to 520 kids in Afghanistan, it’s a positive difference, and we can do it.”

About 120 individuals attended the event, among them city Mayor John Barrett III, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts President Mary K. Grant, state Sen. Benjamin Downing and state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley.

Michael Blair, 17, was among the youth who performed during a Jan. 15 event honoring the life of Martin Luther King Jr..[Photo by Paul Guillotte]


Inspiration

Bosley served as the event's keynote speaker and was welcomed to the podium with a standing ovation. Last week, Bosley announced a decision to decline a post as an economic advisor to Gov. Deval Patrick and remain as the elected First Berkshire District delegate to the state House of Representatives.

Bosley delivered words that emphasized that significance of community awareness and a conviction that all people can generate a positive impact on their communities. His words underscored a need for hope and perseverance as well as a need to become involved in endeavors that benefit locally and globally.

“There is still much work to be done,” he said. “We must try every day to make a difference in the lives of those around us, to draw inspiration from our neighbors.”

Bosley noted the political climate faced by King and he illustrated parallels to current attitudes. There remains a great need
to teach tolerance and understanding and strive for peace and tolerance, he said.

During his remarks, Downing acknowledged an admiration of King and King's unwavering but non-violent quest for civil rights and justice.

Downing noted King's recognition of a need for unified community as opposed to community divided along racial or religious barriers.


Shaina Chappell delivered an a capella musical performance.[Photo by Paul Guillotte]
“Our struggles are not our own,” he said as he quoted King and emphasized the importance of neighborhood unity and strength.

Grant delivered a poetry reading of "Frederick Douglass," a poem written by renowned African-American poet Robert Hayden. Hayden was the U.S. Library of Congress Consultant in Poetry from 1976 to 1978; in 1985, the title was changed to Poet Laureate Consultant.

Readings included selections from the Qur'an, a Hebrew reading and a reading from the Bible. The Savoy Public Library was awarded funds for the purchase of childrens' books that offer education about cultural diversity and understanding.

Youth Honor King Through Music And Dance

The celebration of King's life and legacy was highlighted with several youth performances.

Drury High School seniors Krista Duplantis and Shaina Chappell delivered strong singing performances. Duplantis was accompanied by pianist Michael Blair, 17, and Chappell delivered an a capella performance.

Blair also accompanied himself on the piano as he sang the classic John Lennon-written song "Imagine."

A step-dance exhibition was performed by the locally-based group "The Steppers."

First Baptist Church pastor Rev. David Andrews led the welcome and the city-based St. John's Episcopal Church pastor Rev. Edward King led a group prayer. Organist Lucy Sherrill and pianist Rachel Branch provided music during the event. Celebration committee Chairman Alex Daugherty spoke during the celebration and his son Jake delivered a poetry reading.

MCLA President Mary K. Grant read a poem by Robert Hayden.[Photo by Paul Guillotte]


The Martin Luther King Day event was sponsored by the North Adams Human Services Commission and the Cultural Council of Northern Berkshire. Additional support was provided by the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Members of the Martin Luther King Celebration Committee are Daugherty, King, Branch,2006 Peacemaker Award honoree Stephen Green, Susan Walker, Liz Baker, Kathy Keeser, Carolyn Leab, Liz Boland and Thomas Alexander.

The celebration was followed by a free community lunch at the church.

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