Worcester’s Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Celebration Ceremony
By Fatimah Daffaie, senior at Doherty High School, Worcester
The Martin Luther King Jr. youth celebration ceremony was held on Friday January 15, 2021, virtually through Zoom at 10:00 a.m through Worcester State University. This event is held every year; this year marked the 27th annual anniversary. Around 105 people attended this great celebration!
Manasseh Konadu, a Worcester State University alumni, was the minister of the ceremony. Vanessa Ford was the vocalist of the ceremony, who sang various amazing songs throughout the ceremony. The ceremony started with a moment of silence for everyone who has passed in this pandemic and also for Edna Spencer, who was a former WSU employee who was known for her compassion, volunteerism and passion to care for others.
Barry Maloney, president of WSU, spoke about the current events with racism and the BLM movement. His inspiring words were a highlight in the ceremony and a great reminder to continue fighting for justice! Following his speech, Mr. Konadu said, “The marathon continues, as we continue to fight.”
Participants usually honored and celebrated MLK Jr. at Worcester State University, with terrific breakfast buffet and lots of live music and poetry readings. This year the city event was held virtually.
This message resonated with everyone that attended the ceremony, and it was heartwarming to hear such great messages throughout the ceremony, especially with all the current events that are happening in our country, which Maloney touched upon.
… gave a speech and presented some of the awards. Mayor Petty spoke about Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and his impact till today. He said, “You see his face all over the protests … .” Mayor Petty also mentioned the current events with BLM movement rallies and the Capitol siege. He said: “Be involved, don’t be neutral.” It was definitely an inspiring speech – and a crucial speech during these times in our country.
There was a video shown of Worcester elementary school students sharing their “Dreams for the world” which were:
“Not to have covid anymore.”
“Not to have racism.”
“To be back in school.”
It was wonderful to see those young kids having such dreams … their maturity and understanding was incredible!
Then the Dr. George Storms Smith Youth Service Award was presented by Mayor Joseph M. Petty to Walter Jovel, who is part of the Teens Leading the Way and H.O.P.E Coalition. The Dr. George Storms Smith Community Service Award was also presented by Mayor Joseph M. Petty to Madison Whalen, from St. Peter Central Catholic School in Worcester.
Provost Lois Wims, from Worcester State University, presented Worcester State University Recipient M.L.K. Jr. Youth Recipient award to Elvis Njoki, Biology, Class of 2023 and Cristian Negron-Rivera, Business Administration, Class of 2023. Following that, there was a performance by In Da Zone, Boys and Girls Club, directed by Shauree Allotey.
The Olivia Rochelle Spencer Recipient Memorial Scholarship was presented to Genevive Baddoo, Class of 2021.
Poetry Contest winners were presented by Dorothy Hargrove, Chair of M.L.K. Jr. Youth Poetry Committee. She presented the awards to students from 7th-12th grades. Congratulations to all those students! We are so proud of such amazing young people!