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Speakers to reflect on Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' speech at Groton event

Groton — On the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on Aug. 28, 1963, local leaders will reflect on King’s legacy and the importance of the speech today.

The inaugural event, organized by Groton’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, will be held at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28, in the Groton Public Library Courtyard.

“By doing this event, the town is expressing the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion and celebrating the diversity of Groton and encouraging everyone to celebrate along with us,” Juan Melendez, a committee member and event chair, who is also a town councilor, said in a phone interview this week.

The We Have a Dream 2020 event will feature speeches and musical performances. Participants will include a college professor, a pastor, the chief executive officer of a nonprofit, a choir group and some of the high school students who organized a Black Lives Matter protest.

“Over the last several months I’ve seen the DEI Committee grow from a few committed town staff members focused on increasing workplace diversity to now having over forty members from many partner organizations, all committed to societal change,” Groton Town Manager John Burt said in a statement.

The DEI Committee “celebrates the uniqueness of each individual in our community, believes that developing cross-cultural empathy is vital to Groton’s future, and is dedicated to creating and maintaining an environment that welcomes and celebrates Groton’s diversity,” according to a news release.

The committee, which was reenergized and expanded last year and expended even further after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis this year, includes town and city employees, elected officials, Groton residents, business leaders and community advocates, Melendez said. The committee hosts cultural events, such as the raising of the Pride flag at Groton Town Hall in June, and is committed to planning out more cultural events in Groton or adding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion elements to existing events, Melendez said.

The committee also partnered with Thought Partner Solutions and will begin public training sessions on diversity, equity and inclusion next month. Burt said the trainings will be available to town staff and officials as well as the public, as space allows.

Melendez said that, in these difficult times, he hopes the event focusing on King’s “I Have a Dream" speech, an inspiring speech and moment in history, leaves people feeling hopeful about the future.

“I hope that everyone comes out learning something and understanding someone else’s perspective a little better,” he said. “I just really hope it’s an educational experience as well as an inspiring experience.”

Preregistration for the event is required, since attendance is limited, and people will be required to wear a mask and social distance, according to the news release. Registration is available at bit.ly/grotonmlk2020.

k.drelich@theday.com

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