A large crowd of 80 people from many segments of the Bedford community came to the student center at Middlesex Community College campus on Monday morning to take part in the seventh annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Day breakfast and ceremony. The event was sponsored by Bedford Embraces Diversity.
This year’s event was promoted as “a day of celebration, learning, and service.”
Among the many people to attend were leaders of local government, education, military, and businesses.
The main speaker was The Rev. Willie Bodrick, senior pastor of the historic Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury (https://tbcboston.org/the-pastor).
This church, formed in 1840, is the “oldest direct descendent of the African Baptist Church which was founded on Beacon Hill in Boston in 1805.” Throughout its history, the Twelfth Baptist Church has “served as a forum for champions of human rights and dignity such as William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglas, Rev. Leonard A. Grimes, Rev. George Washington Williams, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others.”
The church’s website says, “From the anti-slavery cause of the 1800s through the civil rights movement to the present day, the Twelfth Baptist Church fostered a commitment to spiritual guidance and social action to the Greater Boston community.”
Rev. Bodrick, who has served at Twelfth Baptist since 2021, is the church’s 14th senior pastor. His message in Bedford on Monday was an eloquent and inspiring tribute to the life and work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, tied to the world as it is today.
Rev. Bodrick talked about how MLK’s famed “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered to a tremendously larger-than-expected crowd during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on Aug. 28, 1963, was about much more than just talking about dreams of the type of country he hoped the United States might be one day. Dr. King talked about the racial inequality that existed at that time – and still exists today. Rev. Bodrick said that it’s not enough to just talk about dreams – MLK was issuing a call to action for everyone to work to do away with injustice and to make this a country where there is equal opportunity for all people.
After the speech, members of the Bedford Embraces Diversity board placed candles in remembrance of those who suffered from acts of hate and discrimination in Bedford and beyond.
The morning also featured the heart-moving music of soloist Tenesha Scarlett, executive assistant to the Middlesex Community College provost.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is also a time of community service. The Bedford commemoration focused on donations of personal care items for the Middlesex Community College food pantry.
The pantry, available to all MCC students, provides food, personal hygiene items, and cleaning products at no cost. Its mission is “to connect our students with community resources that will improve their health, wellness, and security.”
Bedford Embraces Diversity was formed in 2014 in response to incidents of antisemitism. The organization “fosters the belief that inclusion and acceptance should be extended to all residents, regardless of race, religion, disability, lifestyle, gender orientation, military, or cultural status.”
Members of the Bedford Embraces Diversity board include Tricia Anderson, Marilou Barsam, Dori Rhodes, Mike Rosenberg, Anne Caron, Jacinda Barbehenn, and Ralph Hammond.
The event can be seen on the BedfordTV Youtube Channel.