Jaffrey-Rindge Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration is now completely virtual

  • James Waller is the keynote speaker for the Jaffrey-Rindge Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration Monday, Jan. 17, at 5 p.m. which will now be fully online. —Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/11/2022 2:50:36 PM

The eighth annual Jaffrey-Rindge Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 17, at 5 p.m. 

Due to increasing COVID cases and projected continuing surge, the event is being held entirely online.  The full program will be broadcast at MLK Celebration Jaffrey - Rindge - Home | Facebook or The Park Theatre - Home | Facebook.

The event will feature keynote speaker James Waller and performances by the Hutchinson Family Ensemble of Hancock and Jaffrey-Rindge School District choruses. This year’s theme, “Power to Heal” will be showcased throughout the celebration, with a focus on addressing controversies about how people teach and talk about racism.

Event organizer Peggy Ueda of the Jaffrey-Rindge MLK Committee said she hopes the “Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.” event will inspire a renewed sense of community.

“We’re all in this together,” Ueda said. “[The event] is a community gathering to promote cohesion and to share positive values.”

Waller expressed a similar hope of bringing people together. He is the Cohen Endowed Chair of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College, an award-winning author and an internationally recognized teacher and scholar in the field of conflict and resolution studies. His talk, titled “Power to Heal: Hope for America’s Deeply Divided Society,” will be about working constructively on ways forward to reclaim the hope of what America could be, rather than what it has become.

“In my keynote comments, I’m going to frame the theme in terms of the hopes we have for America’s deeply divided society,” Waller said.

In Waller’s studies and teachings, he primarily focuses on the process that leads to genocides and the things that occur before the killing starts.

“We’re not learning history lessons; we’re learning lessons from history,” Waller said. “Those lessons tell us what happens when we don’t promote human rights, protect civil rights and nurture an inclusive democracy.”

Having constructive discussions about moving forward can allow for change to occur. Fear, mistrust and suspicion grow in silence and being afraid to talk about it, Waller said. Rather than looking back on history and feeling guilt, Waller encourages people to learn from the past and move forward with a sense of responsibility. He hopes those that attend the event will leave with a sense of concrete things they can do to make the community a more-inclusive place.

“I think every story has the capacity for a better  ending and we certainly hav e the capacity for a better future,” he said.



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