A large crowd of more than 100 people from many segments of the Bedford community came to the student center at Middlesex Community College campus on Monday morning to take part in the eighth annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Day breakfast and ceremony. The event was sponsored by Bedford Embraces Diversity.
This year’s event not only remembered the work of Dr. King but also was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Bedford schools’ affiliation with METCO.
Many leaders of local government, education, military, commercial, and civic life came to Monday’s event.
The keynote speaker was The Rev. Clarence Powell, who began as a METCO student at the Page School as a first grader in the fall of 1977 and graduated from Bedford High School in 1989. He is the founder and pastor of Abundant Life Deliverance Temple in Dorchester.
Rev. Powell said that he comes from a church family. In 1950, his grandfather founded a church in South Carolina and 22 years later, his grandparents started Highway Church of Christ, later known as New Life Restoration Temple in Boston. A doctoral student at Gordon-Conwell theological seminary, Powell spoke about Rev. Dr. King’s vision, as well as his own journey through the Bedford school system.
In addition to speaking, Rev. Powell sang with a group of singers, accompanied by a keyboardist.
Monday’s commemoration also featured a panel discussion of Bedford METCO alumni reflecting on their experiences, moderated by Akil Mondesir, METCO Director for the Bedford schools and a 1998 BHS graduate.
Rev. Powell was joined on the panel by Jameel Moore, vice president of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association. Moore, a METCO student who graduated from BHS in 1997, earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and English from Boston College, and her juris doctor from Boston University School of Law. She is an attorney with the Boston firm Anderson & Kreiger, advising clients on a wide array of commercial real estate transactions.
A member of the Board of Directors of One Family, a nonprofit helping Massachusetts families experiencing homelessness or living with low incomes, Moore co-chairs the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Steering Committee of the Boston Bar Association. She is also vice president of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association.
Another member of the panel was Jonathan Brome, who is currently the METCO coordinator at the John Glenn Middle School. He is also a METCO graduate of Bedford High School.
Monday’s event also included a tribute to the late Irene Parker, who helped to establish Bedford’s METCO program 50 years ago. Many members of Irene’s family were at the MLK ceremony.
Irene Parker was the longest-serving METCO director in Bedford, serving from 1975 until 2000. Later this year, the foyer by the Bedford High School cafeteria will be named in her honor.
On Monday, board members of Bedford Embraces Diversity also ceremonially reflected on current equity and inclusion achievements and challenges, locally and nationally.
When the third Monday in January was established as a national holiday honoring King, it included a community service component. Bedford Embraces Diversity, supporting the Bedford Food Bank, took donations of personal care and hygiene products and household paper goods at the event.
Bedford Embraces Diversity was formed in 2014 in response to incidents of antisemitism. The organization “fosters the belief that inclusion and acceptance should be extended to all residents, regardless of race, religion, disability, lifestyle, gender orientation, military, or cultural status.”