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Ramapo MLK Day Event Brings Diverse Groups Together To 'Save' Planet

A performance from last year's Martin Luther King Day celebration sponsored by The Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center in Spring Valley. This year's theme is Save the Planet, say organizers.
A performance from last year's Martin Luther King Day celebration sponsored by The Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center in Spring Valley. This year's theme is Save the Planet, say organizers. Photo Credit: Submitted
Poster made by children in the East Ramapo School District express their dreams for humanity and ideas for saving the planet. They  were displayed at a celebration of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy in Spring Valley.
Poster made by children in the East Ramapo School District express their dreams for humanity and ideas for saving the planet. They were displayed at a celebration of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy in Spring Valley. Photo Credit: Provided
A poster made by a child in the East Ramapo School District is displayed Monday at the Save the Planet Unity Celebration in Spring Valley on Martin Luther King Day.
A poster made by a child in the East Ramapo School District is displayed Monday at the Save the Planet Unity Celebration in Spring Valley on Martin Luther King Day. Photo Credit: Provided

SPRING VALLEY, N.Y. -- More than 100 nonprofit, faith-based, environmental and other organizations will be gathering in Spring Valley Monday, Jan. 16, not only to honor civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but to offer a message of hope about the fate of the planet itself, said Marc Pessin.

Pessin, lead organizer of the Save the Planet Unity Celebration, the largest MLK event in the region, said it’s all about solidarity and the environment.

“I truly believe that if Dr. King were here today, it would be his biggest concern; after all, if we don’t have a planet, how can we fight for justice?,” Pessin said, referencing recent incidents, such as the contaminated water in Flint, Mich., that seem to be targeting “areas of color.”

The free event kicks off at 3 p.m. at the Ramapo High School, 400 Viola Road.

There will be several parts to the celebration.

First, Pessin said, dozens and dozens of organizations will have tables where they will explain their services. Refreshments will be served.

The staggeringly long list of performers include: Drummers in Harmony, Chiku Awali Dancers, Christ Centered Ministry’s House of Praise, Spirit of the Mountain Singers, Ekklipse Steel Band and First Baptist Church of Spring Valley Men’s Chorus.

The keynote speaker will be, Pessin said, Chris Williams, activist, author and professor at Amherst College in Massachusetts.

Also scheduled to speak is ecologist and New City resident Margie Turrin, an education coordinator at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

They may be bringing up some scary things, but the positive walk-away will be that we have the "technology now to turn it all around," said Pessin.

"We can still save the planet," he added.

Children from all over the East Ramapo School District have contributed posters with pictures and words expressing their dreams for humanity.

“They are all great and some of them are truly magnificent,” said Pessin, adding: “Out of the mouths of babes ….”

The event is being sponsored by the Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center, Nyack Hospital, Bon Secours Charity Health System, and Community Medical and Dental, in honor of Herbert Kurz, philanthropist, civil rights activist and businessman.

Participants will be able to get a 10 percent off the purchase of a personalized brick to be installed in the center’s Legacy Walk.

The Ascend Teens organization will be collecting non-perishable food items for the center’s pantry.

The event is expected to go until about 7:30 p.m., Pessin said.

For more information, call Pessin at (845) 558-8355, or the center at (845) 425-8910.

The center is located at 110 Bethune Blvd., Spring Valley.

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