Stacia Moreno brought her daughter, Harper, 6, to listen to the book, “Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You,” by Carole Boston Weatherford on Monday, as read by Howard County Library System President and CEO Tonya Aikens.
Moreno, 46, of Hanover, said she wanted to spend the holiday at the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center in Columbia to share more information about King with her daughter.
“[MLK Day] is an opportunity to learn and to grow and develop and to bridge those gaps that may not be able to be taken care of in public education,” Moreno said. “It’s our responsibility to teach our children about the strong legacies that we come from.”
The Office of Human Rights and Equity, Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission and Howard County Executive Calvin Ball held a series of events last weekend to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The events included a keynote address by Howard Community College President Daria Willis, performances by diverse community groups and recognition of the 2023 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Living the Dream Awards and student essay, oratory and poster contest winners at HCC on Sunday. There was also a day of service at the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center on Monday.
The events at the cultural center included an opening ceremony, a caring craft corner for children, a health department vaccine clinic, HopeWorks’ “I Can, I Will Create Peace” workshop and an MLK read-in story time for children.
Additionally, baby supplies, canned goods, coats and other necessities were collected in support of the Columbia Action Council’s Food Bank, Columbia Community Care and Grassroots Crisis Intervention.
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Yolanda Sonnier, administrator for the Office of Human Rights and Equity, said it was important that the county recognize the holiday as a day of service.
“Dr. King was instrumental to change not only for the African American community, but for everyone,” she said. “In honoring him, I think it’s important for us to remember that we are vessels that can make change as well and that we can do service.”
The opening ceremony featured a performance of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” by Wilde Lake High School alumnus Alex Fraser and remarks by District 4 County Council member Deb Jung and Ball.
“In the spirit of Dr. King, who really cared about service, who made sure that he was an exemplar for love and making sure that he thought about his fellow human beings, we made sure that today was a day on,” Ball said. “A day of service not just to help individuals, but in helping those individuals, we’re helping families, we’re helping neighborhoods and we are reigniting the flame of hope for so many.”
Community members wandered the halls of the cultural center Monday, taking part in various activities including the caring craft corner and read-in story time.
Denise Ford, 64, of Elkridge and her grandson, Zion, 8, stopped in the caring craft corner to make bracelets and design cards with inspirational messages. Ford said she wanted to spend her holiday at the cultural center to help teach her grandson about history.
“It was important for me for him to really understand history and exactly everything that Martin Luther King stood for and did,” she said. “This is just a great place that really covers what went on in Howard County and through history.”