WEST HARTFORD — Join West Hartford for the 24th annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life on Monday, Jan. 20, at the West Hartford town hall auditorium, 50 South Main Street, 10 to 11:30 a.m. Each year the event that pays tribute to Dr. King’s ideals and vision grows more popular and inspiring. The event draws nearly 400 people each year said a release from town officials.

The celebration is free and open to people of all ages.

This year’s keynote speaker is Wanjiku “Wawa” N. Gatheru. She is the first Rhodes Scholar ever elected from the University of Connecticut.

The Rhodes Scholarship program, established in 1902, guarantees its scholars a free graduate degree education from University of Oxford in Oxford, England. Scholars are typically there for two years and have up to four years and $250,000 in scholarships available to them.

At Oxford, she will pursue one master’s degree in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance and another in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation. She expects to complete each degree in a year, first diving into environmental research before turning to study social policies and issues like food insecurity.

Wawa was born and raised in the Northeast corner of Connecticut. She is a first generation American of Kenyan descent. She is a currently a senior at the University of Connecticut, majoring in Environmental Studies with minors in Global Studies and Urban and Community Studies. In 2019, she was named a Truman Scholar and Udall Scholar.

The 2020 celebration also includes a welcome from Mayor Shari Cantor and a prayer by Kalidas Sharma of the Nepalese community. Vernon Riddick, Jr., West Hartford chief of police, will serve as master of ceremonies.

Natalie Mendes of the West Hartford African American Social & Cultural Organization, one of the sponsoring organizations, will provide the introduction of the keynote speaker.

Each year two students from the public high schools are selected to give student perspectives on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This year, Eshe Griffith of Conard High School and Isabella Galm of Hall High School, were chosen.

The event features musical performances by the Conard High School Jazz Combo, Sedgwick Middle School Sounds and Conard High School’s Voice of the World choir.

Student artwork, essays and poems from West Hartford elementary schools will also be on display.

The West Hartford African American Social & Cultural Organization (WHAASCO), Town of West Hartford, West Hartford Public Schools, and West Hartford Human Rights Commission are annual sponsors of the event. West Hartford Community Television will air the event live on Comcast channel 5 and replay it on Channels 5 and 95. Refreshments are provided by the WHAASCO.

For more information, contact Renée McCue, public relations specialist, Town of West Hartford at (860) 561-7521 or email Renee@WestHartfordCT.gov.

Connecticut Media Group