Interfaith of New Canaan will hold an ecumenical celebration to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, January 16 at the United Methodist Church of New Canaan. Keynote speaker of the morning will be the Rev. Paul E. Gilmore, senior pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of New Canaan.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday honors the spirit of the man who founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and became a pivotal figure in the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. One of Dr. King’s notable addresses was his “I Have A Dream” speech, delivered in August 1963 as a climax to the March on Washington, a mass protest that highlighted black Americans’ quest for jobs and freedom. His words provided a powerful political impulse that spurred the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act a year later.
The holiday was first observed nationally on January 20, 1986, three years after being signed into law by then-President Ronald Reagan. By that time, 17 states had already proclaimed Dr. King’s birthday as an official statewide holiday on the third Monday each January. In Connecticut the holiday has been celebrated since 1974.
Following the tradition of recent years, three members of the ABC House of New Canaan will participate in the service, reading excerpts from Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech and leading the congregants in a commitment to peace litany. The New Canaan High School students are Devaun Bovell, Chris Andrews and Myles Henderson.
Music will be provided by the Serendipity Chorale of Norwalk, under the direction of Gigi Van Dyke, as well as a musical selection from Cantor George Mordecai of Temple Beth El in Stamford.
The celebration’s morning offering will be used to benefit the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County. Attendees are invited to bring additional food items always needed by the New Canaan Food Pantry: hot cereals, stew, dish soap, Kleenex, olives and salad dressing.
Refreshments will be served at the completion of the program.