MLK Jr. Community Day Draws Bedford Together for Learning, Celebration, and Service

Singing ‘We Shall Overcome’


Editor’s Note: Double click each image to see it at full size

Cantor Ben Silver

On a cold morning of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, a large group gathered for the MLK Jr. Community Day at the First Church of Christ, Congregational, in Bedford Center. The fourth annual event, co-sponsored by Bedford Embraces Diversity (BED) and the Bedford Interfaith Clergy Network (BICN), kicked off with a light breakfast and a warm welcome from Cantor Ben Silver of Temple Shalom Emeth, who led the group in a joyous opening song.  Reminding “everybody [to] get together, come and love one another,” the speakers all echoed this sentiment throughout the morning.


Clergy members of BICN, Bedford Interfaith Clergy Network

Members of the BED and BICN collaborated on the opening and closing remarks and welcomed representatives of Hanscom AFB, the VA Hospital campus, Middlesex Community College, American Legion Post 221, Bedford High School, clergy representing local churches and synagogues, and multiple elected officials of the Town of Bedford and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Rev. Vernon K. Walker

Marilou Barsam, a co-founder of BED, introduced the guest speaker, Rev. Vernon K. Walker, a social and climate activist of Pentecostal Tabernacle Church in Cambridge. After listening to a speech given by MLK Jr. that refers to his “Beloved Community,” Rev. Walker gave his own inspiring speech to ask the question, “Who’s my neighbor?” Through examples from history and present-day, he taught the group that there is hope for the future if we work together toward love and justice for all.

A standing ovation for Rev. Walker’s remarks

Rev. Walker called out climate change as a crucial issue of equity and justice, that disproportionally affects poor communities – Click this link to read Rev. Walker’s remarks.

For the first time this year, attendees were asked to bring paper goods donations for Middlesex Community College’s Food Pantry, as well as join in optional community service projects that were organized to take place immediately following the breakfast.

Service Projects

Rev. Chris Wendell, Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Bedford, explained the BICN wanted to add community service to the day’s event that focused on segments of the Bedford community that may not be as well-known to everyone. Possible choices included loading the donated items for transport to MCC, sewing cloth bags for rural clinic patients in Haiti, and writing letters to state legislators addressing needed reforms in the Massachusetts prison system. Two other opportunities in town were visiting with VA Hospital residents and Ashby Place senior residents. Ashby senior citizens were also entertained by the Bedford High School Jazz Ensemble.

Faces in the Crowd





The 2020 Community Breakfast honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was sponsored by the Bedford Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.


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