News Published: Jan 10, 2019 - 9:34:39 AM

MLK Day Celebration in Simsbury on January 21st

By The Simsbury Free Library

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The upcoming MLK in Simsbury Celebration on January 21st will feature a musical performance by The Henry James Memorial School Select Choir under the leadership of Choral Director Jason Stammen. (contributed photo)
Simsbury, CT - Simsbury will once again commemorate renowned civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by holding a special program at First Church of Christ at 2:00 pm on January 21st.

This annual ceremony will celebrate Dr. King’s life and particularly his time in Simsbury during the summers of 1944 and 1947, and in observance of the federal holiday marking his birthday.

Dr. King’s profound life achievements were influenced by his two summers spent in Simsbury. His writings strongly suggest that his call to ministry crystallized during his time spent with a group of Morehouse College students, earning money for their education by working at the Culbro Tobacco Farm in town.

Highlights of the ceremony will be readings from Dr. King's speeches and musical performances by The Henry James Memorial School Select Choir (Jason Stammen, Choral Director) and the Simsbury Intonations Chorus (Greg Babel, Director).

There will also be a presentation by representatives from the MLK in Connecticut Memorial, a student-led local project dedicated to installing and providing a permanent memorial in Simsbury to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the grounds of the Simsbury Free Library celebrating his legacy and his time in Simsbury

The public is encouraged to attend the FREE ceremony and honor the spirit behind this observance. First Church is located at 689 Hopmeadow Street in Simsbury.

The 2019 keynote speaker will be Joelle A. Murchison. Ms. Murchison serves as Vice President, Enterprise Diversity & Inclusion at The Travelers Companies, Inc. (Travelers). Joelle joined Travelers in April 2007 as Director of Diversity, was promoted to Second Vice President, Diversity a year later and assumed her current role in November 2010. In partnership with management, Joelle developed the framework of the company’s diversity focus and leads a team of 4 in support of the execution of Travelers’ diversity strategy, which includes managing both internal and external strategic relationships in order to drive and enhance the organization’s culture and achieve its business objectives. Prior to joining Travelers, Joelle was Manager, Corporate Recruiting and Diversity Partnerships at United Technologies Corporation, and previously held positions of increasing responsibility in both the nonprofit sector, and in higher education.

Joelle is a lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated and the National Black MBA Association. She previously served 2 terms on the board of directors of Leadership Greater Hartford and spent 10 years as a diversity trainer with the Anti -Defamation League’s A World of Difference Institute. Joelle is the recipient of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) Corporate Individual of the Year Award (2010), the National Association of Insurance Women, New York Chapter’s Helen M. Garvin Enterprising Achiever Award (2011), was named a Connecticut Women of F.I.R.E. (Finance Insurance and Real Estate) Honoree (2013), and a Top Executive in Diversity by Black Enterprise Magazine twice (2011, 2014). In 2015, Joelle received the Hall of Fame Award from the Women in Business Summit. Joelle serves as a director/trustee on the boards of the Morgan State University Foundation, the Amistad Center for Art and Culture (Hartford, CT) and College Possible, a national nonprofit focused on college access.

“We are delighted to continue to honor Dr. King in a meaningful way annually, celebrating his life, legacy and deep connection to Simsbury. We are happy to partner with First Church, the Simsbury Historical Society and the Simsbury Public Schools’ Music & Performing Arts Department under the incredible direction of Angela Griffin on this initiative. This event has become a treasured Simsbury tradition and gets bigger and better every year. We are very excited about this year’s program,” said State Representative John K. Hampton, Chairman of the MLK in Simsbury Celebration Committee.

For questions or more information, please contact Mr. Hampton at 860.803.4072 or e-mail him at

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