Around Amherst: Events celebrate King’s vision, reflect on his  legacy


Staff Writer

Published: 01-11-2024 11:13 AM

AMHERST — The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy is being celebrated in Amherst with two community events next week coinciding with the federal holiday that, in 2024, marks the civil rights pioneer’s 95th birthday.

On Monday at 1 p.m. at the Bangs Community Center, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Department is organizing a reading of King’s “The Quest for Peace and Justice,” the Nobel Peace Prize address he gave in 1964. Then, during a National Day of Racial Healing on Tuesday, residents are invited to a gathering at Crocker Farm School starting at 6 p.m.

Earlier Tuesday, from 9 to 11 a.m., the University of Massachusetts is holding a community brunch at the Student Union, with LaTosha Brown, an author, activist and jazz singer, the featured speaker. Brown is the co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund organization, which is dedicated to increasing the political power of Black people.

The events come as the Town Council this week adopted a proclamation that reads, in part “let the town of Amherst reflect upon its commitment to continue the challenge that all people will live his dreams,” and “encourages Amherst residents to observe this holiday not only by reflecting on Dr. King’s legacy, but also by actively serving others.”

The proclamation also references King’s April 17, 1961 visit to Amherst College. A news account following his appearance at Johnson Chapel indicates about 600 came to hear the “integration leader” call for “maladjusted” people to fight injustices, and that segregation was a cancer in the body politic.

“We will not have won finally until all hold segregation to be morally wrong,” King said.

He also appealed for federal legislation to support assistance for housing and to combat industries practicing discrimination that were awarded federal contracts. “While the law cannot change personal beliefs, legislation can change the effects of bad moral attitudes,” King said.

Racial equity program

The Amherst League of Women Voters Racial Justice Committee is sponsoring the “Working Toward Racial Equity and Social Justice” talk Jan. 18 at 7 p.m.

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The virtual program, part of the Judy Brooks Series, features Debora Ferreira and Allegra Clark, who co-chair the Community Safety and Social Justice Committee, talking about progress toward and barriers to achieving the recommendations of the Community Safety Working Group, and the status of the town’s Community Responders for Equity Safety and Service department.

Register at to participate.

YoungArts Award winner

Jiyu Moon of Amherst, a student at Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School in Hadley, is a recipient of the 2024 YoungArts Award in Cello.

Moon is among nearly 700 accomplished young visual, literary and performing artists from across the country selected for the award. Winners join a distinguished community of artists who are offered creative and professional development support throughout their careers.

Moon is also eligible for microgrants and financial awards, presentation opportunities in collaboration with major venues and cultural partners nationwide, and access to YoungArts Post, a free, private online platform for YoungArts artists to connect, collaborate and discover new opportunities.

Town manager in leadership at MMA

Town Manager Paul Bockelman was recently nominated by the other municipal managers in the state to serve as the 2nd vice president of the Massachusetts Municipal Management Association.

In that role, Bockelman will be part of the executive committee and on MMA’s board of directors.

MMA’s Annual Meeting and Trade Show is taking place on Jan. 19 and 20 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. During that event, with expected appearances by U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, Bockelman will be at an annual meeting orientation providing insights, tips and advice to first-time attendees.

Annie Patterson performs

Annie Patterson will be at the Pioneer Valley Folklore Song & Story Swap Saturday evening, postponed a week due to inclement weather.

Patterson will share music and stories at the event, running from 7 to 9 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 165 Main St.

Patterson has been leading singing around the globe for over 30 years and is well known for her work as co-creator and editor of the songbooks Rise Up Singing and Rise Again.


WEDNESDAY: Planning Board, 6:35 p.m.