Hoping for the same experience this year, Petty went to Marc Clopton, executive director of the Actors Studio, who suggested storyteller Valerie Tutson might be a great contributor to this year’s celebration.
“We want to be able to talk about the past but also bring up more current issues,” Petty said. “So we thought storytelling, just to make it more relevant to now, especially for the students.”
A seasoned performer, Tutson has been a professional storyteller for over 20 years.
“We wanted an event that would really engage people,” Davis said. “We really wanted something that would be thought-provoking. We want people to think differently about an issue they may not have yet before. We wanted there to be some sort of feeling overlay, where they could not only think but also feel something different about the issue.”
Assistant rector at St. Paul’s Church, the Rev. Oliver Jones, will also be on hand to receive this year’s Nancy Peace Action against Prejudice Award.
“It kind of feels like, ‘wait a minute, you should give me a few more years to do something,’” Jones said, with a laugh. “But it’s a credit to the congregation that I serve because they have given me a place to engage with this passion I have for getting people from different backgrounds to communicate with each other.
“Dr. King was maybe a little bit more confrontational than it is my habit to be, but sometimes you can learn from him when the confrontation is worthwhile or it is going to be counterproductive,” Jones added. “Sometimes you have to stand up and say, ‘No, this just isn’t right.’ And other times you have to say, ‘Let’s figure out a way to move ahead quietly.”
Jones was nominated for the award by St. Paul’s rector, the Rev. Martha Hubbard, and he currently volunteers at Newburyport Educational Enrichment Center where Nancy Earls, who was the recipient of the Nancy Peace Award last year, is the executive director.