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Many Martin Luther King Jr. events in our region go virtual due to COVID

Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 5:00 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Every year, on the third Monday of January, the nation remembers and reflects on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Though many celebrations had to adjust this year, Vermonters still found ways to honor the civil rights leader.

“To embrace and to continue to celebrate Dr. King, his life and his legacy,” said Patrick Brown, the executive director of the Greater Burlington Multicultural Resource Center.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day became a federal holiday in the 1980s and it wasn’t until 1994 that it was written into law in Vermont.

Brown says this day provides an opportunity for reflection.

“It was his work and his advocacy that has brought us to this point in our plight for racial justice, for diversity, equity and inclusion,” Brown said.

King is credited with helping to pass major legislation in the U.S., from the Civil Rights Act in 1964 to the Voting Rights Act the following year.

Many celebrations, like the one hosted by the ECHO Center in Burlington, were virtual this year due to the pandemic and recent snow.

Jeff Smith is neighbors with Patrick Brown. Smith says this day is about service to others.

“My son was out here this morning doing the first shift and once the plow comes by, I want to make sure that Patrick has the opportunity to get in and out as he needs to. So, I think it’s finding your path forward and trying to find a way that matters to you, where you can take a small step in doing something very important,” Smith said.

Craig Mitchell is the co-founder of Winooski Strong, a campaign to raise money and awareness for anti-racism efforts. He says in many ways, there’s still a lot of work to do.

“People are willing to do the work. But I think the problem is, are people willing to do the work together? And that I think is a big thing. We need people of all shades and all genders and all orientations to come together and fight for equality in one space,” Mitchell said.

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