By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
The city celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday with a virtual ceremony now airing on West Haven’s YouTube channel.
The program commemorated the enduring legacy of King, who inspired a national movement in the 1960s and steered Black Americans in the struggle for civil rights.
Held at the First Congregational Church on the Green, West Haven’s moving tribute of song, prayer and reflection featured remarks by Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz. It included a reading of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by West Haven High School senior Josh Ofori-Attah and a tour de force performance by Ashli James of “We Shall Overcome,” a gospel song that became a protest song and key anthem of the civil rights movement.
The event also included remarks by Rossi’s executive assistant, Louis P. Esposito Jr., the master of ceremonies; Carroll E. Brown, the president and founder of the West Haven Black Coalition; 7th District Councilwoman Treneé McGee; Planning and Zoning Commissioner Steven R. Mullins; Assistant Chief Anthony Campbell of the Yale University Police Department; and the Rev. E. Carl Howard of the First Congregational Church.
James also sang the Black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and Howard gave the invocation and benediction.
Watch the 42-minute ceremony on West Haven YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5cM1trmHe999FXNJ56X_Jg.