- December 29, 2022
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A scene at a past West Haven Black Coalition tribute to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at First Congregational Church of West Haven.
WEST HAVEN — Carroll E. Brown, founder of the West Haven Black Coalition, believes the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s impact is best felt in person.
Facing uncertainty and concerns about safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, the coalition’s annual celebration of King did not happen live last year. Instead, the 36th annual celebration was commemorated on CTV, with recordings of past years’ celebrations being aired throughout the weekend. This year, however, Brown said the 37th annual celebration will be back in a church.
“It’s a big event and it’s meaningful,” she said.
Brown said the free event begins at First Congregational Church on the West Haven Green at 4 p.m. Jan. 8. Brown said she wasn’t sure whether the event, which in the past attracted upward of 500 people, will reach as many people during the ongoing pandemic, but “we’d love to be surprised.”
As is usual, Brown said there will be live music provided by a choir and multiple reflections from local community leaders about King’s impact on them. Whereas in the past the event used locally-renowned soloists and three different choirs, Brown said there will only be one choir this year: the choir from Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School, a New Haven magnet school. She said that, in addition to reflections on King, an alumnus of the Unity Boys Choir will share his reflections of Lillie Perkins, the choir’s founder and director who died in January.
“Ms. Perkins was a very big loss to our community,” Brown said.
Brown said top politicians from across the state have been invited this year, as always. Probate Judge Clifton Graves will deliver the keynote address, she said.
Although Brown said the event will return to its longtime host for the in-person commemoration, there will be one change to accommodate public health guidelines: no refreshments.
“I want them to come with full stomachs,” she said.
Brian covers all things West Haven. He has worked for the Register since September 2015 where he has spent most of his time writing about schools and education.