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West Hartford Will Celebrate Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A portrait Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on display at West Hartford's annual celebration on Jan. 19, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

The 20th annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life will be held on Monday, Jan. 18, 2016 at West Hartford Town Hall.

West Hartford's 19th Annual Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jan. 19, 2015. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford’s will hold its 20th Annual Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 18, 2016. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (file photo)

Submitted by the Town of West Hartford

The community is invited to come together for the 20th annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life on Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in the West Hartford Town Hall Auditorium, 50 South Main St., from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Each year the event that pays tribute to Dr. King’s ideals and vision grows more popular and inspiring. The event draws nearly 400 people each year.

Dr. Constance Belton Green will be the keynote speaker at West Hartford's MLK Day celebration on Jan. 18, 2016. Submitted photo

Dr. Constance Belton Green will be the keynote speaker at West Hartford’s MLK Day celebration on Jan. 18, 2016. Submitted photo

This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Constance Belton Green, a renowned consultant on diversity and race. Green is the first African American woman to receive a Juris Doctor from the University of Connecticut, School of Law. Her passion for social justice and education led her to a second career in education; including as coordinator of the Legal Assistant Program at Manchester Community College, education consultant for the Connecticut Department of Education, and as chief diversity officer at Eastern Connecticut State University. In 2003 she received her doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Green is one of the founders of Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF), and has served as a Commissioner of the Connecticut African American Affairs Commission. She currently serves on the Hartford Public Library Board, and the Hill-Stead Museum Board in Farmington; as well as on the Outreach Ministries Committee of Asylum Hill Congregational Church.

Green is the 2012 recipient of the George W. Crawford Black Bar Association Trailblazer Award; and maintains a writing focus on the lives of African American women. She recently wrote The Trailblazing Bessye Bennett, published in the 2014 spring issue of Connecticut Explored magazine.

In October 2015, she was honored as the 2015 Woman Philanthropist by the Aurora Foundation, an organization whose mission is to be a catalyst for positive change in the lives of women and girls in Greater Hartford.

Rabbi Debra Cantor will provide the opening prayer at West Hartford's MLK Day celebration on Jan. 18, 2016. Submitted photo

Rabbi Debra Cantor will provide the opening prayer at West Hartford’s MLK Day celebration on Jan. 18, 2016. Submitted photo

Other participants in the 20th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration include Rabbi Debra Cantor of B’nai Tikvoh-Sholom, Bloomfield, who will provide the opening prayer, and Mayor Scott Slifka.

Leslie Mayes, a reporter with NBC Connecticut, will serve as master of ceremonies. Taylor Andrew Steer of Conard High School and Mariel Sofia Correa-Maynard of Hall High School will give the student perspective speeches. Christine Johnson-Hatcher of the West Hartford African American Social & Cultural Organization, one of the sponsoring organizations, will provide the introduction of the keynote speaker.

Leslie Mayes of NBC Connecticut will be the emcee at West Hartford's MLK Day celebration on Jan. 18, 2016. Submitted photo

Leslie Mayes of NBC Connecticut will be the emcee at West Hartford’s MLK Day celebration on Jan. 18, 2016. Submitted photo

Featured musical performances include the Conard High School Jazz Combo, Conard’s Voices of the World Choir, and the King Philip Middle School Singers.

The celebration is free and is open to the public.  The West Hartford African American Social & Cultural Organization, Town of West Hartford, West Hartford Public Schools, and the West Hartford Human Rights Commission are annual sponsors of this event.

West Hartford Community Television will air the event live and replay it on Comcast Channels 5 and 95.  Refreshments are provided by the Elmwood Senior Center.

If you have any questions, call Renée McCue, public relations specialist, at 860-561-7521.

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