The Johnstown branch of the NAACP will celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King this weekend with its 25th annual interfaith remembrance program.
The event will be held at 4 p.m. Jan. 16 at the Christ Centered Community Church, 531 Somerset St., Johnstown.
Richard Williams said.
“I came up with the theme because of what is happening not only in the world or in the United States, but in our community — the violence, young kids killing young kids, job discrimination and housing discrimination still coming about.”
King’s message will be echoed by guest speakers state Rep. Vanessa Lowery-Brown and Rosemary Pawlowski.
Lowery-Brown, a Philadelphia democrat, has worked to improve education with programs such as the West Philadelphia Coalition and in the Parent Volunteers Program where she recruited parents to assist in their children’s schools and with training on financial literacy.
She has also worked as a community outreach specialist at a women’s homeless shelter, led Philadelphia’s Mothers on the Move Committee and was a representative for the National Campaign for Jobs and Income Support.
Her awards have included the National Organization for Women’s 2008 Outstanding Community Service Award, the University of Pennsylvania’s 2005 Martin Luther King Community Service Award, and the 2004 Million Woman March Association Activist of the Year Award.
“I thought she’d be an ideal person to talk,” Williams said. “She is from the largest city in Pennsylvania and one of the toughest cities in Pennsylvania, a city that was high in crime, and she fought for improvement in things there.”
Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center executive director Rosemary Pawlowski will also speak.
Williams said the arts center has served as a positive example in the community by encouraging residents to explore and embrace other cultures through its variety of programs, courses and events.
“She’s helping to tear down the walls of ignorance,” Williams said.
The service will also include music from several local choirs and a reading of King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech by 12-year-old Greater Johnstown Middle School student James C. George. Alan Cashaw, the new president of the Johnstown NAACP branch, will also speak.
Williams said past celebrations have attracted between 100 and 250 attendees, and the event rotates between traditionally minority and Caucasian churches each year.
Last year’s event at Oakland United Methodist Church raised nearly $900, used to support earthquake victims in Haiti.
Mount Sinai Institutional Baptist Church was originally planned to host the celebration, but was unable to do so because of the East Conemaugh church’s transition to a larger building.
Williams said Mt. Sinai pastor Dr. Jeremiah Hunter contacted Rev. Sylvia King of the Christ Centered Community Church to allow Mount Sinai to host the event in the Somerset Street church.
“They all believe so much in this event,” Williams said.