Portland celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day to mark Voting Rights Act anniversary

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PORTLAND — The 50th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 will get special recognition when the Portland chapter of the NAACP hosts its 34th annual breakfast celebration of the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The breakfast, which culminates a weekend of activities, will be held from 8-11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 19, at the Holiday Inn by the Bay, 88 Spring St. Former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts, one of the country’s most prominent gay politicians, will keynote the breakfast.

The annual observance begins Friday night with a Merrill Auditorium concert featuring performances by the Knightlife Ensemble and Chorus from King Middle School, singer songwriter Samuel James, and the Green Memorial African Methodist Episcopal choir.

On Saturday, al community dialogue begins at 9 a.m. at the University of Southern Maine Abromson Community Center. It will focus on the My Brother’s Keeper initiative launched in 2014 by President Barack Obama, which seeks to ensure boys and young men can have full opportunities to reach their potential by challenging local communities to better align resources.

Mayor Michael Brennan accepted the challenge in September 2014, and the 9 a.m.-1 p.m. program will discuss what resources are available, and determine priorities and goals for an effort in partnership with the local NAACP branch and ConnectEd, a city public and private sector education initiative.

This year’s breakfast celebration theme is “We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest,” a lyric drawn from”Ella’s Song,” written by Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock. The song is about Ella Baker, who joined the NAACP in 1940 and helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to fight racial segregation.

A program for children ages 6-13 will be held concurrently with the Jan. 19 breakfast, including a screening of the film “Our Brother Martin” and the chance to create a patch for the Portland Freedom Quilt.

For more information about the events, visit naacp.me, call the NAACP Portland branch at 553-5851, or contact Rachel Talbot Ross at rtalbotross@gmail.com.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.