Cheshire was among towns across the nation to host observances in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on Monday, Jan. 17.
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and the state’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities partnered again this year to create an inclusive, anti-racism Children’s March and Bell Ringing Ceremony for Unity to mark the day.
“We are so grateful that St. Peter’s Church is able to partner with CHRO in their efforts to recognize and raise up the voices of children and young people from around the state, who are calling out racial healing and justice,” said Rev. Sandy Staynor of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, before the Monday event. “Since the death of George Floyd, members of the congregation have formed a racial healing group that actively seeks to understand the history and impacts of racism in our country.
“A core part of this commitment to healing and justice is to listen carefully to our children and young people — and to join with them in their desire to see the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King for the day when children will ‘not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.’ We are thankful to CHRO for this opportunity for our children and adults to walk together in hope and solidarity.”
It was important to hold the event in Cheshire, according to Cheryl Sharp, an attorney and CHRO deputy director. She explained that the suburbs are not traditionally where these events are held, as they generally occur in larger cities such as Bridgeport or Hartford. “It’s good to come together to show solidarity and unity in Cheshire, even though the percentage of people of color here is very small,” she said.
The significance of the children leading the march cannot be overstated, said Sharp. It is a moment taken straight from recent history. “In 1963, inspired by the civil rights work of Dr. Martin Luther, King, Jr., children marched in Birmingham, Alabama, for equality, justice, freedom and dignity, and they sparked a positive change in this nation,” said Sharp. “On Jan. 17, 2022, we will solidify and honor their efforts and those of Dr. King by marching in this little suburban town of Cheshire led by our children, with the goal of unifying our community.”
A brief ceremony was held before the march. That’s when 8-year-old Jeremy and his twin brother Ezekiel (Zeke) Works, among other Cheshire residents, were scheduled to speak.
“I want discrimination to stop,” said Zeke, adding, “Everyone should be treated fairly.”
His brother Jeremy echoed those sentiments and explained his belief that all people should feel safe and comfortable around one another and that everyone should be respected.
More than 100 children were expected to march. Hot cocoa and lunch for the children were served before marchers began.
The event was non-denominational and open to all.