Each January, the Town of Woodstock throws a bash celebrating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with live music and inspirational speeches. The 26th annual Birthday Tribute will take place this Sunday afternoon at the Mescal Hornbeck Community Center. Its theme will be “An unjust law is no law at all,” commemorating the concepts concerning equal justice and civil disobedience articulated by Dr. King in his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
It’s a theme that resonates especially strongly today, as America’s African American communities rise to the challenge of widespread violence against black youth by organizing social justice campaigns like Black Lives Matter. Among the special guests at Sunday’s event will be Pam Africa, speaking on behalf of the International Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, “the world’s most famous political prisoner”; Diane Harrell, widow of Samuel Harrell, who was beaten to death last year by guards at the Fishkill Correctional Facility; and Paula Watson of Kingston, wife of Shane Watson, who has remained in jail since his 1993 conviction for second-degree murder, despite the fact that the only eyewitness recanted her testimony in 2013.
Also speaking will be the Rev. G. Modele Clarke of Kingston’s New Progressive Baptist Church and Woodstock town supervisor Jeremy Wilber. Music will be supplied by Journey Blue Heaven and the Woodstockers’ Experience and Debra Burger.
Woodstock’s 26th annual Birthday Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. begins at 2 p.m. on January 17, and admission is free. The Community Center is located at 56 Rock City Road. For more info, call (845) 679-7320.