A 40-year MLK day tradition in New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The photo is from 1964, when Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., was in New Haven to receive an honorary Doctor of Laws from Yale. Albert Ernest Foxhall, a Yale employee and New Haven resident, had the honor of taking King around the city, as told by his granddaughter Sondie Jackson.

“Been honored all these years to look at that photo and remember the significance of Dr. Martin Luther King,” Jackson said.

Jackson now chairs the annual Martin Luther King Conference in New Haven. It’s a day to honor Dr. King’s significance and also a chance to teach children fundamental life skills.

“This day is to celebrate what he’s done and change he brought to America,” said Akira Hippolyte, a 12 year-old student.

Many feel this is a time to re-commit to the fundamental values that Dr. King taught. Values of love, collective self-worth and community building.

“It’s about realizing we don’t all have to agree. But we all have to come together with commitment to our future,” said Quinnipiac University Political Science Professor Dr. Khalilah Brown-Dean. “For Dr. King, it was about extending love to people, even when they deny that love to you.”

As political divisions have deepened during a tense election season, King’s philosophy of the “beloved community” comes to mind. A belief that nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding. It seeks to defeat injustice, and not people.

“That means you reach across political aisle, across political spectrum and focus on things like self-determination, responsibility — individual and community — and thinking about a peaceful world and what it takes to get there collectively,” Dr. Brown-Dean said.

Today’s event was held at the Wexler-Grant Community School in the Dixwell neighborhood. It is billed as a day of service. A day on, instead of a day off.

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