New Britain City Journal

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City Commemorates Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Over 100 people turned out Monday at the City’s Commemoration of the Life of Martin Luther King Jr. at Angelico’s Restaurant.

The annual event featured a number of speakers topped off by Police Chief James Wardwell giving the keynote address.

Wardwell said he first learned about Martin Luther King Jr. as a young boy.

“I was not even 5-years-old on April 4, 1967 when James Earl Ray took the life of one of the most influential people in the history of our nation. James Earl Ray took the man, but he did not take the dream,” said Wardwell. “This dream has been passed forward to this generation. This is a dream that must not be forgotten.”

Wardwell said through knowledge, faith and action change can be brought about.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. got our attention through his words of peace, actions of peace and powerful prayer,” Wardwell said. “Dr. Martin Luther King chose to challenge the nation through these peaceful means. Dr. King chose to be our conscience. Sadly, we needed this.”

Wardwell said the road King chose was not easy.

“He could have chosen to be silent, but instead he chose to take a determined stand for a cause which affected the entire nation,” said Wardwell. “This man was not afraid to do what was right and it was his desire to do the right thing through peaceful means. This man was a true leader. Dr. King was not a man who sought to conform to accepted norms, but rather he sought to mold new norms.”

Wardwell said this is a road we are still on, but we have not yet achieved our destination.

“When we see a wrong we need to identify the cause and seek positive solutions to make this wrong right. To allow a cycle of decay to continue unchecked in New Britain or anywhere in our great nation is the worst possible approach,” said Wardwell. “If we see a neighborhood in our City suffering from neglect we should not ignore it and hope the problem goes away. Should we follow in silence when we know the path we are on is wrong?”

Wardwell said Dr. King wanted people to strive for positive change even if it is not the popular thing to do.

“There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right,” said Wardwell. “Let us, the citizens of New Britain, listen to our conscience. Let’s all commit to do what is right.”

Halina Makowska-George, Human Resource Commissioner (HRO), said “Dr. King and his followers put their health and offered their lives on the line for the hopes of living in a country with equal opportunities for all. I pray that this dream will become a reality.”

Dream Cards were available where people could write their dreams on a card and put it in a folder. Later the dream will be blessed and another person will pick a card to see what other people’s dreams are.

“Having a dream is the start of what you want and the future for yourself and the future for your generation,” said Cristina Cataquet, HRO staff.

The event is sponsored by Mayor Timothy E. O’Brien and the New Britain Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.

Other members of the HRO staff include Joan Pina, chairperson, Jessica Angelo-Julien, Cora Bradley, Michael Koch, and common council liaisons are Tonilynn Collins and Rha-Sheen Brown.