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Local News

January 17, 2014

An advocate for racial and social justice

The Rev. Oliver Jones to receive Peace award at MLK dinner

NEWBURYPORT — Sometimes a tradition needs to be broken and the Newburyport YWCA is doing just that Monday night when, after 20 years, it will be holding a dinner instead of a breakfast in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The program, “Martin Luther King Jr., a Celebratory Evening” will be held at Newburyport City Hall from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The program is cosponsored by the Newburyport Commission for Diversity and Tolerance.

“Every year we have tried to find a way to make it more accessible and inspiring to more people,” said Ellie Davis, YWCA director of programs and community relations. “So we have changed all along.”

A popular event for the past two decades, this year’s celebration will be open to middle school students as well as high schoolers. The evening will feature a light supper. Students can attend for free.

“We have gone from having it in catered facilities to holding it in the high school,” Davis said. “We have changed the type of presentations that we do, looking at what is really going to capture people’s interest in the community, and we have been hearing from the students and the community members who work on that day that an early in the morning breakfast is a bit challenging.”

Or, as Newburyport High School junior and member of the student-led Racial Justice Committee Leah Petty put it: “We are making it in the evening so that more students can come, because students don’t really want to wake up in the morning.”

Education has always been a key element of the MLK celebrations and Petty enjoyed her first breakfast last year.

“Last year was really good,” Petty said. “We had Harlem 125 and he was really good. He was a slam poet and he made you think about things but entertained you at the same time.”

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