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Carroll commemorates MLK Day with events, service

Carroll commemorates MLK Day with events, service
Sandymount Elementary teacher Nira C. Taru reads from the book "Child of the Civil Rights Movement" by Paula Young Shelton and Raul Colon during "A Day On, Not a Day Off," an observation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, at McDaniel College in Westminster Monday, Jan 19, 2015. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

For many, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is more than just a national holiday and a day away from work and school — it's a chance to commemorate the life and legacy of the beloved civil rights leader for which it's named.

The first event in the county to commemorate the day was the 13th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast at Martin's in Westminster, held by the Carroll County NAACP. The event, scheduled for Jan. 9, was planned to feature keynote speaker Percy White III, a genealogist and historian. But for those who missed the breakfast or are interested in commemorating the day further, two upcoming events in the county might be just what you're seeking.

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A Day On, Not A Day Off

On Monday, Jan. 18, the community will celebrate the seventh annual A Day On, Not A Day Off event in Decker Hall at McDaniel College in Westminster. The event, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., is sponsored by McDaniel, the Carroll County NAACP, The Ira and Mary Zepp Center for Peace and Nonviolence, and Carroll County Public Schools. Attendance costs $7 per person and includes a pizza lunch, a snack and a drink. Carroll County Public Schools students who receive free and reduced lunch will receive lunch at no cost. Registration is required for the event, but a small number of walk-ins may be accepted.

Since 2009, students and adults of all ages have gathered to participate in the community-based service projects and experiential activities focused on civil rights education that are offered through A Day On, Not A Day Off. Past events have attracted more than 100 students for the day and have included speeches, interactive exhibits, and a service project. Last year's service project supported The Shepherd's Staff, a Westminster-based nonprofit that supports local community members in need with clothing, school supplies, food and more.

Each of the previous six events have had a specific theme associated with civil rights. Last year's theme was based on the act of voting, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.

This year's event will focus on the women of the Civil Rights movement. Four key figures will be featured in a live "museum," where attendees can interact with the women and learn more about their lives, experiences, struggles and triumphs.

"I'm excited to be highlighting the work of women in the Civil Rights movement this year," said Pamela Zappardino, co-director of the Ira and Mary Zepp Center. "Many women were leaders in the movement, and many had been working on civil rights for decades before it came to national attention."

College students will be on hand to help lead the younger children to see the exhibits and meet the women. Four adult actresses will play Dorothy Cotton, Amelia Boynton Robinson, Fannie Lou Hamer and Viola Liuzzo, and be ready to address their audiences in character.

"These women were an essential part of our American history," Levroney said. "The children will learn so much from speaking to these women first hand."

Dr. Dorothy Cotton worked closely with Dr. King and directed the Citizen Education Program. She also accompanied King when he received the Nobel Prize for Peace. Amelia Boynton Robinson was a leader in the American Civil Rights movement in Selma, Alabama, and was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Medal in 1990. Both she and Viola Liuzzo were key figures in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches. Fannie Lou Hamer was a civil rights activist who helped African-Americans register to vote. She was also instrumental in organizing Mississippi's Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and later co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. She coined the phrase, "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired."

After the live museum, participants will engage in a service project during which they will make wellness cards for the residents of Golden LivingCenters, a nursing home and rehabilitation center that has a branch in Westminster.

"We have all kinds of craft materials to make happy, uplifting cards for the residents," Levroney said. "There will be lots of bright colors — and glitter, of course!"

Shelly Ensor, an adjunct professor at McDaniel College and director of the Common Ground Gospel Choir, will also lead the participants in songs inspired by the Civil Rights movement.

Students in grades 6 through 12, as well as college students, will receive Service Learning Hours for their participation.

"It's a great way to spend your day off," said Patricia Levroney, supervisor of Equity and Community Outreach for Carroll County Public Schools. "Participants learn about Dr. King's dedication to community service, and how they can help others as well."

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'Selma' at Arts Center

The Carroll County Arts Council has provided special programming on Martin Luther King Jr. Day ever since the Arts Center opened in 2003. Events have included crafts, speakers and movies. In the past few years, however, the Arts Council has focused on presenting a thought-provoking movie based on the civil rights movement.

This year, the Arts Center, at 91 W. Main St. in Westminster, will be showing "Selma" at 1 p.m. This 2014 film chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965 during which King led his campaign to secure equal voting rights. The film is sponsored by Carroll Community College and will be followed by a question and answer session led by Dale and Linda Brown, active Arts Council volunteers who plan to share their experiences from an eventful trip to Selma and Memphis, Tennessee in 1997.

"We hope families will attend together and continue the dialogue about the subject matter at the dinner table when they return home," said Sandy Oxx, executive director of the Carroll County Arts Council.

Tickets are $6 for adults and $5 for CCAC members, students 18 and younger and seniors 60 and older. However, in observance of King's dedication to service, the Arts Council will offer free admission to anyone who has volunteered for a nonprofit in the past year.

The Arts Council invites these volunteers to write their service on a label that says "I volunteered at…" and share their service experiences with other attendees.

If you go:

What: A Day On, Not a Day Off

When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday Jan. 18

Where: Decker Hall on the campus of McDaniel College, 2 College Hill, Westminster

Cost: $7, including lunch. Students who receive free and reduced lunch will receive lunch at no cost

To Register: Contact Levroney at 410-386-1680 or ptlevro@carrollk12.org to ensure your space. Registration is required but a small number of walk-ins may be accepted.

What: Showing of "Selma"

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When: 1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18

Where: Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster

Cost: $6 for adults and $5 for CCAC members, students 18 and younger and seniors 60 and older; free for any attendee who has volunteered for a nonprofit in the past year

For more information: Call 410-848-7272 or visit www.carrollartscenter.org

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