Category Archives: Music

🎵💜 Worcester’s 24th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast

Text and photos by Ron O’Clair

I was pleased to attend this morning the City’s 24th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast held at Worcester State University on May Street.

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Dr. King at the Mountain Top…

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Friendly House long-time executive director, Gordon Hargrove, heads into the event.

The breakfast …

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Ronny’s breakfast at the event😏

… poetry readings, songs, ceremonies …

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The proud North High School Color Guard🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

… and award ceremony were held in the WSU building that formerly housed the Temple Emmanuel Synagogue, which is conveniently located for the community – at the intersection of Chandler and May streets.

There was a good, diverse, eclectic turnout – typical of Worcester!
There were, of course, several city officials: District Attorney Joe Early Jr., Mayor Joseph Petty …

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Retired WPS teacher Anne Marie Monfredo, her husband Worcester School Committee member John Monfredo, Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty

… Superintendent of Schools Maureen Binienda, City Councilors Rosen and King, School Committee members John Monfredo, Brian O’Connell and the recently elected Dante Comparetto. Also in attendance: various other persons of note from our fair city of Worcester, such as Friendly House’s Executive Director Gordon Hargrove, his sister Dorothy Hargrove, who coordinates and is one of the judges of this celebration’s student poetry contest …

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Dot Hargrove, a former reading teacher in the Worcester Public Schools, at the podium.

… community activist William S. Coleman III, and others.

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Bill Coleman, right, and James Bonds at a meeting working to rebuild and rededicate the CITY MONUMENT to the city’s WORLD WAR II Black soldiers. file pic

There were some folks who wore traditional dress from their country of origin, such as the lady I saw from Liberia wearing the fashion popular in that country. She declined my request for a photograph.

It gave me great pleasure to greet Mr. Ike McBride, community engagement director at the Worcester Boys and Girls Club, and his family.

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Ike McBride was honored at the event. Here he is with his children and wife.

McBride was an honored attendee – recipient of the MLK Jr. Youth Service Award for his longstanding efforts working with at-risk youth throughout our fair city of Worcester.

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Charles, Worcester Boys Club member! file pic

It was a great celebration in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and all the many contributions to our country that resulted from his non-violent activism that gave birth to and fueled the Civil Rights movement …

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Dr. King

… It was a struggle, the journey towards equality. Many – white and black – were jailed, beaten, died for the cause.

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Birmingham, 1963. photo: LIFE magazine

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… It was a brutal but empowering struggle. To raise the standard of working, housing, education, voting, LIVING, for people of color in these United States. In my own experience, I remember most vividly watching on television as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. urged people to judge his children based upon the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin. That resonated with my young mind, and I have striven to always do just that with people I meet. I believe we all should take that advice to heart and practice it in our daily lives.

We must look at the sum of a person’s character first, last and always.

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🎵🎵🎵Music to our souls! From Main South’s Clark U:

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Dr. King

Clark University
950 Main St.

Clark U to host “Radical Dreaming, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Intersectional Activism,” Jan. 19 and 20

Clark University will host a lecture and a day-long conference on January 19 and 20 to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The events are free and open to the public.

Associate professor of history Ousmane Power-Greene will present a lecture, “Radical Dreaming: re-evaluating MLK’s Radical Vision for Change” on Friday, Jan. 19, from Noon to 2 p.m. in Tilton Hall, 2nd floor, Higgins University Center, 950 Main St.

Professor Power-Greene will examine Dr. King’s work in its historical context and asks questions such as “How radical was MLK?” “How has the narrative of his legacy been white washed?” “How do we remember and honor him today?”

A conversation café will follow.

Topics include spirituality and theology, anti-war and anti-imperialism, community education, jobs and labor organizing, student activism, White supremacy and liberalism, and gender and sexuality politics.

Floetic Fridays will present “Radical Dreaming & the Art of Resistance” at 7 pm in Dana Commons, 36 Maywood St.

The event will involve poetry, music, dance and visual art.
A day-long conference, “Daring to Dream Today: Education and Hope in Difficult Times,” will be held on Saturday, January 20, beginning at 9 a.m. in Dana Commons, 36 Maywood St.

The conference will examine the role critical pedagogy and radical education play in the movement for justice. The conference begins with breakfast and a plenary at 10 a.m. on “where we are today and how we got here.”

Two workshops will examine the role of art and healing in the movement; a third workshop will look at the relationship between Clark and the Worcester community. Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, Professor Colette Cann, and Italo Fini will convene the plenary dialogues; Lulama Moyo, Cheyenne Jones, and Florcy Coyolxauhqui will lead workshops.

Lunch is included.

The events are sponsored by Clark University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Peace Studies concentration, Hiatt Center for Urban Education, Africana Studies of the Center for Gender Race and Area Studies, Multicultural and First Generation Student Support, Community Youth and Education Studies, and International Development Community and Environment Department.

Yes!🎵🎶New Jersey is First State in US to Ban Traveling Wild-Animal Acts!

Let’s go, Massachusetts!!

From PETA.ORG:

By Zachary Toliver | January 8, 2018

Around the world and right here at home, there’s a growing resistance to circuses that chain, beat and jab animals in order to force them to perform confusing tricks — look no further than New Jersey for evidence of this as the Garden State becomes the first in the nation to ban traveling wild-animal acts.

First introduced as “Nosey’s Law” by Sen. Raymond Lesniak, the legislation prohibits the use of wild or exotic animals in traveling acts.

It overwhelmingly passed the Senate by a vote of 31-0, just as the 2017 legislative session closed and is now on its way to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk for approval.

The legislation is named in honor of Nosey, an elephant whose freedom has been the focus of a bitter lawsuit between authorities and infamous animal handler Hugo Liebel.

When authorities seized Nosey — who is lame and currently residing at an animal sanctuary while awaiting a decision on her fate — she was found tightly chained, confined in her own waste, and without proper shelter.

“Nosey is an elephant who is virtually crippled by arthritis, and who is forced to travel the country to give rides at fairs, flea markets, and other events,” wrote Sen. Lesniak when he first introduced the bill. “The arthritis has likely caused Nosey unnecessary suffering and permanent disability, and reports indicate that Nosey has been denied necessary veterinary care. … Nosey’s owners continue to use her in shows. This bill would prohibit such shows in New Jersey.”

Last year, both Illinois and New York banned all traveling elephant acts, but New Jersey is the first state to go further and prohibit all animal shows.

The Garden State just showed that it won’t be long before we bid goodbye to all animal acts and circuses.

No living being exists simply to be a spectacle or to perform tricks for human entertainment, yet all circuses and traveling shows that use animals treat them as mere props, denying them their freedom and an adequate standard of living.

Elephants, tigers, bears and other animals in circuses are forced to perform under the threat of punishment with sticks, bullhooks, whips and electric prods — by businesses that claim to offer a good time for the whole family.

Torn away from their homes and subjected to beatings, isolation, and neglect, these animals will continue to pay the price for human greed as long as people continue to pay the admission fees to these performances.

PETA thanks Sen. Lesniak and the animal rights advocates of New Jersey, who proved that if we work hard together, we can restore the freedom that all animals exploited by circuses deserve.

Go, Jim, go!!!!

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Jim, right, at an event to raise awareness about hunger in our communities.

Congressman McGovern Condemns Trump Move to End Protected Status for Immigrants from El Salvador

Congressman Jim McGovern, a senior House Democrat and leading voice on U.S. foreign policy on Central America, released today the following statement condemning the move by President Trump and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen to end Temporary Protected Status for more than 200,000 immigrants from El Salvador who came to the United States seeking safety:

“Today’s move by President Trump to end the protections for these immigrants is sadly just his latest attack on these American communities.

“The Temporary Protected Status program has helped to provide refuge to thousands of immigrant families from El Salvador and throughout the region desperately fleeing warfare and disaster.

“El Salvador is the second most dangerous country in the world, and there are few immigrants more deserving of this essential protection.

“America has a proud legacy as a beacon of hope to the world, welcoming those who seek a better life.

“This decision by President Trump and Secretary Nielsen is a shameful and cynical move to punish these innocent families just to score political points with the extreme right wing Republican base.

“I am angry and dismayed at this cruel decision. It a deliberate and narrow interpretation of the law, which provides flexibility to weigh current realities and not just the effects of the 2001 earthquake in El Salvador.

“I helped draft the TPS law, and I know that it is more concerned with protection than with duration. We must never play politics with people’s lives.

“America is better than this and I will do all I can in the next 18 months to fight this terrible decision and work with my colleagues to pass bipartisan legislation to help regularize the residency status of long-term TPS holders.”

Extreme winter weather and animals🐶🐾🐾

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Cece. Cats should always be safe, indoors. Average life span of an outdoor cat? 3 yrs. pics: R.T.

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Urgent message from PETA:

As you make your way through Worcester County, please remember the risks to animals during EXTREME WINTER WEATHER: they can suffer from deadly frostbite and exposure, become dehydrated when water sources ice over, and die.

Already this winter, at least 24 animals have died after being left outside in the cold — and these are just the death’s that were reported in the media. Most are not.

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Rose’s beloved ol’ Jett – always safe with her!

Please share this information – you may save a life!

These are some of the numerous dog deaths across the U.S. that have been reported:

· In Butler County, Ohio, while responding to a complaint, the local dog warden found a German shepherd dead inside his doghouse. Although there were four bales of straw on the owners’ front porch, they hadn’t put any straw bedding in the doghouse.

· In Hartford, Connecticut, officers responding to a complaint from a concerned neighbor found a chained pit bull mix who had died of hypothermia. He was also found inside his doghouse.

· In Lynchburg, Virginia, an animal control officer performing a welfare check found a chained dog who had frozen to death inside his doghouse.

Keep animals indoors. Freezing temperatures spell extra hardship for “backyard dogs,” who often go without adequate food, water, shelter, or veterinary care.

If you see animals left outside without shelter from the elements and are unable to help, note their location and alert authorities immediately. Worcester Animal Rescue League: 508.853.0030; Worcester Police Department – Animal Control: 508.799.8606

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In cold weather, you can provide birds and other animals with access to water by filling a heavy nonmetal water bowl (tongues can freeze to metal) and breaking the surface ice twice a day.

When weather improves, be sure to remove any food offerings to encourage animals to move on to warmer areas.

Anyone who leaves animals outside to suffer in severe weather may be prosecuted!🚔👮

Thank you very much for helping to protect animals during this wind-chill warning and throughout the winter!
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Wild turkeys in Quinsig Village! Huge!!!!

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…and their young uns!!

🎵🎶🎶 to our souls!💜

WPI Fraternity Brothers and WPI Campus Coming Together for Change!

By Daniel Page, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Civil Engineering 2018

“How’s it looking Robbie?” President Conor Hoey asks Brother Robbie Lederman, this year’s ‘Battle of the Bald’ Event Coordinator.

There’s hesitation, anticipation, hopefulness that plans are progressing. “It’s good. We’ve got a few barbers, we’re calling a few more, we’re still looking to see who we can have there – hopefully Colleges Against Cancer will be there, Phi Kappa Theta’s all set for their Movember Fundraiser, Sigma Pi wants to make a team, it should be good, we’re getting there.”

The whole executive board is gathered around the large mahogany table in the living room of the chapter facility where they hold their biweekly meetings. Everyone’s ready to make sure this year’s event goes off without a hitch – bigger and better than it ever has before.

Say hello to WPI’s Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity and its third annual Battle of the Bald event.

The event is part of a nationwide head-shaving competition between colleges, all teaming up to see who can raise the most money for children’s cancer research. The proceeds from each event go to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the nation’s largest non-profit foundation exclusively supporting pediatric cancer research.

The event was first hosted on WPI’s campus three years ago. The brothers of the Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp) felt there was a hole in the fundraising on campus, that there was more that could be done, and they felt they fit the bill.

That’s when it all began, says senior Brother Dan Page. “The house really felt like there was more we could do, like the couple hundred dollars here and there from on-campus fundraising for different causes wasn’t enough. We wanted to do something bigger. We wanted to really make an impact.”

The first year SigEp hosted the event, it was modest – a group of thirty or so brothers, in the common area of a few freshman dorms, shaving each other’s heads over a tarp on a Tuesday afternoon – still raising $6,000 nonetheless. After a few years of the same turnout, the fraternity again felt there was more they could do.

“We really wanted to beef it up, to make it more of a trademark event, something that would extend beyond our house and really involve the whole campus, not just our little corner,” says President Conor Hoey.

So this year the Brotherhood did just that. Planning began months in advance, at the beginning of the calendar year. Brainstorming how to involve other organizations, dedicating a five-member team of passionate brothers, collaborating with other houses on campus to make the event bigger and better than ever before.

And this year those efforts paid off. At WPI’s event more than 60 people braved the shave raising more than $13,000 – making the event the second largest college-hosted event in the nation to date this year.

Four different fraternities came together to make teams to raise money for the event, local barbers from the community volunteered their time to shave participants’ heads, there were news crews in coverage – it was truly a celebration of the fight against cancer.

“To see such a small campus come together to make such a big difference has really been inspiring to everybody,” says Hoey.

It is with that spirit of inspiration and hope that the Brothers of SigEp, and the members of the greater WPI community remember the chilling facts: every two minutes, a child is diagnosed with cancer. One in five of those children won’t survive. Those who do often suffer long-term effects from treatments too harsh for their developing bodies. These fraternity brothers and members of the WPI campus teamed up with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation in hopes to change this reality, and they still cling to hope that one day the memory of pediatric cancer will be no more than the memory of a bad haircut, trimmed from our minds and swept away forever.

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… Because we listened to this 🎵🎵 when WE were in college🏫 (UMass Amherst)!!😉

Main South: Centro Job Fair!

Text and photos by Ron O’Clair

A job fair was held today at CENTRO, 11 Sycamore St. The job fair was aimed at helping Puerto Rican nationals displaced to the mainland by Hurricanes Irma and Maria find jobs in the local area.

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Janice Ryan Weekes and J.C. Fernandez manning the greeting desk and mugging it up for the camera, at my request.

This event was by all accounts successful, with more than 60 applicants having attended officially and many more who didn’t sign the register of attendance at the door.

I arrived late, due to a 12-step commitment that I fulfill each Wednesday, taking a substance abuse victim for their weekly appointment at the Anchor Medical Clinic in Hudson. I do this so the person can get their prescription for Suboxone – and stay off the heroin their body is dependent on. I like to believe that I am helping to make a difference, one person at a time, in combatting the opioid epidemic.

I arrived at Centro at 12:40 p.m; the job fair was in the process of breaking up. But there were still several attendees and many booths still in operation. I spoke with Mr. Roberto T. Diaz MCDP, the Director of Institutional Advancement for CENTRO …

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Roberto Diaz

… who happened to be at the registration desk that was staffed by Director Janice Ryan Weekes and J.C. Fernandez, Business Services Representative from the Workforce Central Career Center, which has its offices at 340 Main St., here in Worcester. These are the people who were primarily responsible for making this event happen, with assistance from Jennithan Cortes, Business Engagement Team Manager of Workforce Central Career Center.

Numerous companies were committed to being at the event – more than 30 attended! They were: Microtech Staffing, Worcester State University, Saint Gobain, PeopleReady (Worcester) PeopleReady (Marlboro) Riverdale Mills Corporation, Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center, Umass Medical School, YWCA of Central MA, Young Parent Hope, Seven Hills Foundation, Imperial Distributors, CoWorx Staffing, Securitas USA, Masis Staffing Solutions, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, Family Health Center of Worcester, Inc., Key Program Inc., Branded Management Group/Dunkin Donuts, You Inc., Riverside Community Care, Utility Trailer of NE, Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, HW Staffing Solutions, The Guild of St. Agnes, Worcester Fire Department, RESCOM, Latino Education Institute, as well as the SeedMA program of the Office of Economic Empowerment (from the Office of State Treasurer and Receiver-General) and the Department of Transitional Assistance of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which set up a booth to help those who may need financial assistance. (The SeedMA program @SeedMA.org is in its second year of a 3-year mandate to help establish college savings accounts for children with seed money provided by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.)

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The SeedMA table

There were a few other organizations that had expressed an interest in attending that, for whatever reason, were not able to attend the event.

All in all, it was quite a worthwhile enterprise that may lead to better lives for folks, with steady jobs for the displaced persons who relocated to Worcester as a result of the poundings the Island of Puerto Rico took from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Also: anyone else who wanted to attend the event to seek employment! Mr. J.C. Fernandez told me he knew of at least four individuals who utilized the job fair who were neither displaced persons nor Puerto Rican nationals. Which goes to show you that members of our community at large benefitted as well!

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Joanna Davis, M.B.A. Agency Recruiter & Trainer from the Key Program on the left, and Theresa Burke, Recruitment Coordinator of the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center. They had adjacent tables set up in the meeting hall area where the job fair was held.

All God’s beings deserve kindness and compassion this season

By Craig Shapiro

But ask the animals, and they will teach you;

the birds of the air, and they will tell you;

ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you;

and the fish of the sea will declare to you.

Who among these does not know

that the hand of the Lord has done this?

— Job 12:7-9

As a Christian, it’s not hard for me to see God’s hand in the natural world around us.

A sow “sings” tenderly to her nursing piglets. A turkey rushes to comfort her frightened baby. A hen clucks softly to her chicks, who chirp back to her from inside their shells. A cow hides her newborn calf from a dairy farmer.

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God’s hand moves in our lives, too, especially at this time of year. The holiday season seems to bring out the very best in us. We’re more understanding. Forgiveness becomes second nature. Our compassion and generosity know no bounds.

We are, in a word, kinder.

So why don’t those of us who celebrate Christ’s birth extend our compassion and kindness to the holiday table? When we sit down with family and friends, why don’t we spare a thought for the animals on our plates, who were shown no mercy during their brief lives?

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Pigs are playful animals who bond with others and whose cognitive abilities rival those of dogs and primates. They can play video games and love tummy rubs.

Turkeys, who can recognize each other by their voices, love to explore — they can recall the geographic features of areas exceeding 1,000 acres — and like humans, they form strong social bonds.

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Chickens create complex social structures and can distinguish among the faces of more than 100 others of their kind. They also experience rapid eye movement when they sleep—in other words, they dream, just as humans do.

Cows develop friendships but will hold grudges if they’re treated badly. They also love to solve problems and get excited when they find the solution.

But animals who are condemned to factory farms know only suffering and deprivation.

Mother pigs spend most of their lives in “gestation crates” that are too small for them even to turn around. Piglets are separated from their mothers when they’re as young as 10 days old, and the sows are then re-impregnated.

Turkeys are crammed by the thousands into dark sheds. To keep them from scratching and pecking each other to death, workers use hot blades to cut off portions of their toes and beaks—without giving them any painkillers.

Tens of thousands of chickens are raised in windowless sheds that reek of ammonia. Male chicks are deemed worthless by the egg industry, so every year, millions of them are ground up alive when they’re just a day old.

Cows are treated as milk-producing machines, often spending their lives standing on concrete floors. Male calves are often taken away from their mothers shortly after birth and are then chained inside tiny stalls and raised for veal.

Their misery finally ends on the kill floor or in the scalding-hot water of the defeathering tank.

Like humans, other animals experience fear and feel pain. They value their lives and want to be left in peace, but they’re denied that right every time we load up our plates with meat, crack open an egg or drink milk that was intended for baby cows.

We can do better. By switching to humane, healthy vegan foods, we not only celebrate the lives of every being but also feel God’s touch and answer His call to be merciful.

I can’t think of a more rewarding way to celebrate the season.

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Lilac. pic: R.T.

Ohhh, baby, it’s cold outside!

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Why does Rose wear her boxers around the house when it’s 2 degrees out⛄⛄⛄??? (3 days ago!❄)

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Cuz she’s always only “chili” up top! (Rose and Cece)

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Chef Joey’s Mild Veggie Chili:

For this recipe I used all the basic ingredients of chili, but instead of meat, I used barley and lentils.

I cooked one cup each on water that had 4 cloves of garlic in it.

While that was cooking I cut up and used the following, in addition to the barley and lentils:

2 large onions – diced

4 cloves garlic – diced

1 red pepper – cut small-pieced

1 green pepper – cut into small pieces

vegetable oil (2 tbsp)

2 cans (28 oz each) diced tomatoes

2 cans black beans (15 oz each)

taco or chili seasoning

Get a large pot and add the oil and added onions and garlic, stir to coat then add the peppers.

Cover and let cook for about 5 minutes and stir.

Add the cooked barley and lentils

Then add the tomatoes and beans, juice and all.

Let this all cook for about an hour on low heat and it will thicken up nicely.

Add 1 or 2 tablespoons taco or chili seasoning and you are done!

Not only is the combination tasty, it is nutritious and lasts a week! So enjoy the holiday and make a chili!

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