MLK Continues to Inspire

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 3:24 p.m. January 20, 2016

Officers at 11 Division joined hands with students from the Carleton Village Junior and Senior Sports and Wellness Academy to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A woman seated at a piano in front of a group of girls in the same red golf shirt
Carleton Village students sing at the assembly as officers look on

Born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929, King inspired, encouraged and empowered people from diverse backgrounds, races, religions and creeds to achieve greater racial equality, opportunities and justice. He also challenged them to use peaceful and non-violent methods to focus on, and attain, civil rights.

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, while in Memphis to support sanitation  workers and their boycott against companies with unfair hiring practices.

“Within the realm of civil rights, a champion needs to stand tall and with a resounding voice to lead our young people towards enlightenment,” said Superintendent Heinz Kuck. “Dr. King’s image transcends international borders and his message of peace and non-violence is timeless.”

The celebration featured speeches and musical performances by the public school’s Ladies Choir, accompanied on keyboard by principal Lorelei Eccleston, who performed Hymn to Freedom.

“The messages were crafted to inspire students to follow pathways towards peace and to use strategies of non-violence when settling disputes or differences not only at school, but throughout their neighbourhoods,” said School Liaison Officer Constable Eric Berridge.

A man in TPS uniform holds a book amid a group of seated boys and girls in a gym
Superintendent Heinz Kuck reads to students at the MLK Day assembly

In her oral tribute, Grade One student Kyannah Coutain reminded the audience that King was committed to social equality.

“Martin Luther King Jr. wanted everyone to be treated equally and not to be judged by how they look,” she said. “He wanted to make the world a better place for you and me.”

King’s birthday was celebrated on January 18.

One of the highlights of the celebration in the United States to mark King’s birthday was the Martin Luther King Day of Service that was started by former Pennsylvania Senator Harris Wofford and Atlanta Congressman John Lewis, who co-authored the King Holiday and Service Act.

The federal legislation challenges Americans to transform the King Holiday into a day of citizen volunteer service in King’s honour. The legislation was signed into law by former president Bill Clinton on August 23, 1994. Since 1996, the annual Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service has been the largest event in the U.S. honouring the former Civil Rights leader.

The U.S. national holiday commemorating King’s birthday was enacted in 1993.

A girl holds a microphone and looks at a book as other students look on
A student delivers a reading at the assembly
TPS crest watermark