King celebration promises fun, food for thought

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Sat., Jan. 7, 2012
Connecticut Center for Non-Violence founder Victoria Christgau (right) will be featured at this year's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

The Martin Luther King Day Celebration Committee again promises an afternoon of meaningful and fun events on Jan. 16, beginning at 1:30 p.m., at Smith Middle School.

Last year's high-profile speaker, Ambassador Andrew Young, called for a slight switch in the format, but this year, there will be a return to the formula that includes several events and workshops, according to committee secretary Donna Kidwell. Kidwell said the committee wanted to expand on the theme of “Building the Beloved Community,” and to explore what that means for the community of Glastonbury.

“We were looking at ways to do that, and how it could mean various things to various people,” Kidwell said. “Our focus is on teaching and history of the principles of Dr. King, so we had become familiar with the Connecticut Center for Non-Violence, and thought that would be a good way to approach it.”

After several MLK committee members attended workshops by the CTCN, they decided that the program will feature CTCN founder Victoria Christgau and other members of that organization.

Christgau has worked with Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr. – co-founder and leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) – since 2003, and has been engaged in peace and nonviolence education for more than 20 years. She has attained Level Three certification, in Kingian Nonviolence. She is founder/producer of the Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Commemoration of Litchfield County, now in its 20th year, and has led Peace-Arts Residencies in schools throughout Connecticut for more than 18 years.

Similar to past years' programs, there will also be workshops after the main presentation. Two will be presented by the CTCN – an adult/teenage workshop entitled “The Six Principles of Nonviolence - Building the Beloved Community,” as well as two “Six Principles of Nonviolence - Peace Is Possible” workshops for children in grades 1-4 and 5-8.

Another workshop will be presented by Don Giannini, representing the Healing Racism Coalition (HRC), which is for adults and teens and is called “Confronting Your Prejudices.” The HRC was founded in 2000, as the Institute for the Healing of Racism, by concerned community members with the belief that racism is the most powerful and persistent obstacle to the attainment of a just and peaceful society. The members plan and initiate activities to bring individuals and groups of people together in comfortable settings to share experiences while facilitating better understanding of each other.

“I really feel excited about the workshops that we are doing,” Kidwell said. “They will allow people to have some time to think about the issues of racial [and] economical divides that happen in our society, and how we can go through our everyday lives doing what we can do to change things.”

Activities for all ages will follow in the cafeteria – including decorating dream shirts, making peace cards, buttons, dream pillows and a ukulele sing-along of freedom songs by the Glastonbury Ukulele Band, directed by Dr. James Rosokoff. A birthday cake reception will culminate the celebration at 4 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public. Donations of nonperishable food will be collected for local food banks. For further information, visit, or call 860-643-0473.

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