Sharing a vision: GCC marks 25th year celebrating MLK’s legacy 

Greenfield Community College Title IX Coordinator and Affirmative Action Officer La Wanza Lett-Brewington served as the keynote speaker for GCC’s 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.

Greenfield Community College Title IX Coordinator and Affirmative Action Officer La Wanza Lett-Brewington served as the keynote speaker for GCC’s 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Kids from the youth group Twice as Smart performed songs during Greenfield Community College’s 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.

Kids from the youth group Twice as Smart performed songs during Greenfield Community College’s 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Kids from the youth group Twice as Smart performed songs during Greenfield Community College’s 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.

Kids from the youth group Twice as Smart performed songs during Greenfield Community College’s 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Michael, 7, and Kim Zabek read a children’s book on Martin Luther King Jr.’s life during a story hour at Greenfield Community College’s 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.

Michael, 7, and Kim Zabek read a children’s book on Martin Luther King Jr.’s life during a story hour at Greenfield Community College’s 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Michael, 7, and Kim Zabek read a children’s book on Martin Luther King Jr.’s life during a story hour at Greenfield Community College’s 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.

Michael, 7, and Kim Zabek read a children’s book on Martin Luther King Jr.’s life during a story hour at Greenfield Community College’s 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

African dancing was one of several workshops offered during Greenfield Community College’s 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.

African dancing was one of several workshops offered during Greenfield Community College’s 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Greenfield Community College held its 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration Monday.

Greenfield Community College held its 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration Monday. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 01-15-2024 3:43 PM

GREENFIELD — With Monday marking Greenfield Community College’s 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, the school expanded its offerings for the milestone event.

On hand to deliver the keynote speech was GCC alumna and school Title IX Coordinator and Affirmative Action Officer La Wanza Lett-Brewington, who was part of the event’s original organizing group a quarter century ago.

In her remarks, Lett-Brewington reflected on King’s work and his ability to bring so many people together for one common goal. The combined sum of everyone’s effort, she said, can make a positive impact and she implored the nearly 100 people in attendance to rock the boat if society’s systems are inequitable.

“Similar to how Dr. King was able to share his vision, you can all share your vision of how you want your community to grow collectively and grow to the point where we make a difference for each other; not just on one day, but for the whole year and for many years to come,” Lett-Brewington said. “Your silence can equal complicity. We don’t want to be complicit in letting things stay status quo … we as a collective can make that difference.”

Prior to the speech and performances from the Twice as Smart youth group and the GCC Community Chorus, the school offered a variety of family-friendly workshops for children and adults to take part in activities, such as learning traditional African dances, learning how to make effective civil rights posters and a story hour and discussion regarding King’s legacy.

Speaking before Lett-Brewington, GCC President Michelle Schutt invoked a passage from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, in that “now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.” To honor these words, especially in a presidential election year, Schutt encouraged people to make informed votes, promote civic education and combat misinformation.

“A well-informed citizenry is essential for the functioning of democracy,” Schutt said. “As you reflect upon your experience today and our collective future tomorrow, please be reminded again of the words of Dr. King.”

Adding to the sentiment, Lett-Brewington emphasized the importance of educating the nation’s youth, even if it’s just one small act.

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“It can be reading to your kid or reading to somebody else … we know that we have to invest in our future and it’s simple as that,” she said. “Education is the key … it can be done with a book. By giving a simple book to a child you are investing in their future.”

Lett-Brewington said the small group of people who came together 25 years ago to create the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration had a collective goal in mind and have come to see this event grow so much. In closing, she said that sort of collective power can be harnessed on a greater scale and can be used to make a lasting impact on the world.

“Collectively, we can make a difference if we come together and say that we want a better future; not just for ourselves, not just for this week, not just for this month, but for the future,” she said. “We owe this for our children, we owe this for our grandchildren to make that difference.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com.