By Selectman Mike Rosenburg

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was only 30 when he made that declaration in Stride Toward Freedom, his 1958 essay on the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

That 60-year-old message will be paramount when the community gathers for Bedford Embraces Diversity’s third Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration on Monday, January 21, beginning at 9:30 a.m. The event will be in Fellowship Hall of the First Church of Christ, Congregational, 25 The Great Road. The public is encouraged to attend though reservations are required through bedfordembracesdiversity@gmail.com or (781) 538-4690.

A panel of educators, clergy, young people and parents will address challenging issues of racism nationally as well as at the neighborhood level.

Among the panelists will be Scott Jones, detective lieutenant with the Bedford Police Department, and Jason Harris, head basketball coach at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Both are Bedford High School graduates. They will be joined by the Rev. Darrell Hamilton of First Baptist Church, Jamaica Plain, and local school administrators, teachers and students.

“Our grass-roots organization is dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion both here in Bedford and in the world at large,” said Marilou Barsam, president of Bedford Embraces Diversity. She noted that besides the speakers, Karin Parker of Boston, a prominent vocalist in the Gospel tradition will be featured.

Martin Luther King Jr Day is an annual opportunity for Bedford’s various interest groups, constituencies, and agencies to make a unified statement in support of the civil rights leader’s principles. It is expected that, like past commemorations, this year’s will include representatives from town government, public safety and the public schools, Middlesex Community College, Hanscom Air Force Base, Middlesex Community College, churches and other religious organizations, and residents of all ages.

Bedford Embraces Diversity was formed in 2014 in response to incidents of anti-Semitism. Our belief is that inclusion and acceptance should be extended to all residents, regardless of race, religion, disability, lifestyle, gender orientation, military, or cultural status. We denounce all acts of bullying, hate, and violence towards any individual or group because of visible or invisible differences.

We look forward to this special morning, when together we will recommit to Dr. King’s words: “It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.”

Keeping the Peace is sponsored by the Violence Prevention Coalition of Bedford, a representative group of citizens interested in ending violence in families, communities, and beyond.  Mike Rosenburg is Selectmen liaison to Bedford Embraces Diversity, a constituent member of VPC.

The VPC meets the first Tuesday of every other month at 8:00 a.m. at First Church of Christ Congregational, 25 the Great Road, Bedford.  For more information call 781/275-7951.

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