The 41st Annual People’s World African American History Month Celebrations in Hartford and New Haven, Conn., will feature remarks by guest speaker Zenobia Thompson, long-time social justice activist in St. Louis, Mo., on the theme “Indict the System – Life Matters for All – Let Us Breathe and Grow.”
A youth march will be held prior to the New Haven program.
Thompson, a retired nurse, serves as a board member of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and participates with Jobs with Justice, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and the Organization for Black Struggle. She is a recipient of the Martin Luther King Award for leading the struggle to save Homer G. Phillips Hospital, and serves on the National Committee of the Communist Party USA.
She will address the situation of police violence in Ferguson, near where she lives, and the struggle to overcome structural and institutional racism in our country.
The first program will be held in Hartford on Saturday evening, Feb. 21 at 6:30 pm at the King-Davis Labor Center, 77 Huyshope Ave., including dinner and remarks by Thompson.
The events on Sunday, Feb. 22 in New Haven will be held at the Peoples Center, 37 Howe Street. “Hands Up, Hoodies Up, Jobs for Youth, Jobs for All!” is the theme of the New Elm City Dream and the New Haven YCL march at 1:30 pm to be followed by a celebration at 4:00 pm.
The march will honor the lives of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and all others lost to racist violence, and will build support for a growing movement for jobs in New Haven. The youth have asked the community to “come out and support the loved ones we’ve lost and the changes we are going to make.”
The 4:00 pm celebration includes remarks by Zenobia Thompson, drumming by Brian Jarawa Gray and presentations of prizes for poems, essays and artwork in the High School Arts and Writing Competition. Students were asked to present on the theme “How Do We Achieve Justice for All?” highlighting the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and recent police killings of black youth across the country.
A call to action will be issued at both events in support of legislation introduced this month by Rep. John Conyers, who became the first African American Dean of the House on Jan. 1. The bills are HR 885 the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015, which will restore and strengthen protections stripped out by the Supreme Court last year, and HR 429 the Grand Jury Reform Act of 2015, which will strengthen the Justice Department’s ability to investigate allegations of police brutality.
The events kick off the 2015 People’s World Fund Drive in Connecticut. All contributions will be appreciated. A donation at the door of $5 or what you can afford is requested at both events which offer a homemade buffet.