Monday, January 16, 2017

Rep. Katherine Clark celebrates MLK Day in Cambridge

As the country nervously awaits Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday, Cambridge came together to remember slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. today with multiple celebrations in and around City Hall in Central Square.

Brian Corr
At St. Peter's Episcopal Church along Mass Avenue, the Peace Commission under the leadership of Brian Corr convened a ceremony of commemoration, with songs and writings from Dr. King. The standing-room-only crowd listened with hope and some anxiety as speakers read King's words about racism, materialism and war, the scourges that consumed him in his day and which many noted were equally relevant fifty years later. 

Keynote speaker Representative Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), a leader in the US House of Representatives who led last year's sitdown on the House floor to protest gun violence in this country,

Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons with Representative Katherine Clark

spoke proudly of her work with Representative John Lewis, the civil rights icon who changed America by bravely walking over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965, only to be beaten by Alabama state police as he tried to complete his journey. Lewis is very much in the news these days after he questioned the legitimacy of Trump's presidency to which Trump tweeted a slew of derisive attacks in response.

John Lewis, on ground, being beaten by an Alabama state trooper, 1965

Rep. Clark observed that it is not enough simply to remember Dr. King. It is important that we bend the arc of history towards justice if it does not want to bend that way on its own. Her presence was comforting to the crowd in the overwhelmingly Democratic city. Democrats are debating how best to respond to the incoming Trump administration. 

After the event at St. Peter's, people crossed over to Cambridge City Hall for the eighth annual Day of Service, a chance to celebrate Dr. King by serving. Numbers topped 2,500 volunteers, according to event organizer Lori Lander. The day reflects Dr. King's vision for a peaceful society but it also points a way forward in very uncertain times. Many noted that there is strength in numbers and it is critical that communities show how a peaceful, respectful society can function.