Students, speakers and dancers gathered to commemorate Martin Luther King and his decades of work for civil rights at the 43rd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration organized by the Rockville Human Rights Commission. The event was held at Richard Montgomery High School.
“Honoring MLK’s legacy serves to remind us to always strive to end discrimination, whether that be discrimination based on race, gender, orientation, or economic status. The theme for our event this year was the beloved community. As we work together to end all forms of discrimination, we can achieve Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of the beloved community,” said Kindra Cantrell, current chair of the Rockville Human Rights Commission.
Patrice Gaines was the event’s guest speaker. As an author, former reporter for The Washington Post and teacher, she delivered a compelling and empowering statement in addressing social equality, especially after the events in Ferguson. The rest of the celebration featured multicultural performances, varying from dance to music to literature. Performers included the Kiamsha Theater Group, Maritza Rivera, Arte Flamenco, Urban Artistry, and the Glorystar Children’s Chorus, among others.
“In order to achieve and maintain Dr. King’s dream, we must ensure that future generations truly understand the essence of his message so that they can carry on its legacy,” Cantrell explained.
In conjunction with the event’s theme, awards were also presented to those who worked for the improvement of their communities. Xavier Hill, a senior at Wootton High School, received the Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Award for his dedication in helping to achieve Martin Luther King’s dream of social equality. Xavier is a member of the school’s basketball team and actively participated in the march to end the achievement gap last year. The F. Michael Taff Award, given to a group or individual that has worked to better the lives of those with disabilities, was presented to Margie Glancz.
For students who would like to become more involved in promoting racial equality, Cantrell mentioned that there are plenty of local opportunities available. “Every year, we host a Diversity Leadership workshop for high school students living in or attending a high school in the city of Rockville as well as students who attend classes at Montgomery College’s Rockville campus. The workshop will take place this year on February 21st. You can register for the workshop at Rockville’s City Hall, located at 111 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850. Additionally, we always welcome volunteers for our events. To find out more, please email our city liaison, Janet Kelly, at JKelly@RockvilleMD.gov.”
Elsewhere in Montgomery County, the Volunteer Center organized a variety of activities, ranging from packing meals for shelters to organizing care kits for foster children. In an intersection between social equality and environmentalism, the Montgomery County Department of Parks also worked with local organizations to clean up parks and streams.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” said Dr. King in a speech. With a wonderful day of advocacy and service, these members of the community are searching for an answer.
Article by the MoCo Student Community Editor Emily Zhang of Richard Montgomery High School