Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Concord

By Joe Palumbo
Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, from his Autobiography:

When I went to Morehouse as a freshman in 1944, my concern for racial and economic justice was already substantial. During my student days, I read Henry David Thoreau’s essay “On Civil Disobedience” for the first time. Here, in this courageous New Englander’s refusal to pay his taxes and his choice of jail rather than support a war that would spread slavery’s territory into Mexico, I made my first contact with the theory of nonviolent resistance. Fascinated by the idea of refusing to cooperate with an evil system, I was so deeply moved that I reread the work several times.

I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. No other person has been more eloquent and passionate in getting this idea across than Henry David Thoreau. As a result of his writings and personal witness, we are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest. The teachings of Thoreau came alive in our civil rights movement; indeed, they are more alive than ever before. Whether expressed in a sit-in at lunch counters, a freedom ride into Mississippi, a peaceful protest in Albany, Georgia, a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, these are outgrowths of Thoreau’s insistence that evil must be resisted and that no moral man can patiently adjust to injustice.

We are fortunate in our small way here in Concord that our native son Henry provides us with this cherished link to Dr. King whose legacy as a great American we celebrate this month.

Here are two unique free events being held in Concord that would be wonderful ways to celebrate the holiday:
MLK, Jr. Day Community Breakfast and Film ScreeningMonday, January 16th
8:00 am to 11:45 am
A free Community Breakfast and Screening of Jeffrey Robinson’s Documentary Film: Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America, to be held at the Concord-Carlisle High School, 500 Walden Street, Concord MA.
Breakfast begins at 8 am in the CCHS Cafeteria followed by a panel, and the film screening which will start at 9:30 am.
Feel free to RSVP via the QR code below
Civil Disobedience Discussion Monday, January 1612:00 pm-2:00 pmIn honor of MLK Day, join Concord historian Richard Smith and Robbins House Programming Director Nikki Turpin for a conversation about Thoreau’s legacy of civil disobedience. Thoreau’s arrest for non-payment of taxes as a protest against slavery laid the ground for his essay Civil Disobedience, which Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, and other activists read and cited in support of their activism. Meets in the Visitor Center Gallery Walden Pond Visitors Center 915 Walden St, Concord, MA.
Both events are just down the street from each other so it is easy to attend each. Take the time this year to make these gatherings part of your MLK Holiday on Monday, January 16.

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