On Wednesday, January 14, 2015 our communities came together for the Concord Carlisle Human Rights Council’s 22nd annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration at the Fenn School. With poetry, music and song, we honored the life and legacy of Dr. King with contributions from children’s choirs and a diverse group of singers and poets from the greater Boston area. Our emcee again this year was CCHRC member Charisse Gilmer, a Concord-Carlisle High School graduate from Roxbury.

Young singers from the Willard Fifth Grade Chorus, directed by Charlyn Bethell; the Fenn School Treble Chorus directed by Mike Salvatore; and the Boston Children’s Chorus directed by John Martha-Reynolds, took to the stage performing a range of traditional spirituals such as “This Little Light of Mine” and “Freedom is Coming” and more contemporary songs like Joni Mitchel’s “The Circle Game.”

New to the concert this year was Carl Alleyne, an award winning vocalist, actor, choreographer, dancer, master teacher, and founder of Boston Mobile Dance Studio. Carl sang an a capella version of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” as well as a traditional gospel song. We were thrilled to have spoken word poet Lisa Lee back again this year. Lisa performed her own poem about Dr. King that had the audience participating with great enthusiasm.

The Holy Tabernacle Church Brotherhood Choir from Dorchester, directed by Lawrence Wyche, raised the rafters again this year with two gospel songs, “See What the Lord Has Done” and “When It’s All Over We Shall Wear Crowns.” We closed the concert with our annual tradition of all the choirs together on the stage singing “Follow the Drinking Gourd” with the audience.

Reflecting on King’s message of freedom and justice in the face of racial discrimination was especially poignant this year as our country marked the 50th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery for African American voting rights. We were honored to have an exhibit of photographs of the march by Concord resident and photographer for Life Magazine, the late Ivan Massar, in the lobby.

The ongoing struggle for racial justice in the United States could not have been more relevant this year, a year in which police brutality and discrimination and economic inequality are the norm in far too many African American communities. Coming together in song to celebrate and honor Dr. King gives us hope.