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'The next generation of leaders': Chapel Hill and Carrboro youth plan MLK celebration

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The Carrboro Century Century is located at 100 N Greensboro St, Carrboro, N.C.

Youth from Chapel Hill and Carrboro worked together to create a special event celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with speakers, bands and performers.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. youth-led special event will be held on Saturday, Jan. 18, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The event will take place at Century Hall of The Carrboro Century Center.

The Carrboro Youth Council, along with the Chapel Hill Youth Council and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP Youth Council, were tasked by the town to create and organize the event.

“We need to celebrate diversity and community, which in my opinion is what Martin Luther King Jr. was about,” said Jeremy Poythress, the recreation supervisor for Carrboro Recreation and Parks, where he works with the Carrboro Youth Council. “He was about equity for everyone and unity in community.”

Poythress said the event will host a diverse group of entertainment, such as an a cappella group from East Chapel Hill High School singing an original song.

“I hope we can make people feel a little closer to each other, and I think that is what we're really striving for this year, some human interaction between people,” Poythress said.

Lorie Clark is an adviser to the NAACP Youth Council. The council had a representative serve on the Carrboro Youth Council in planning for the event. 

“I believe in letting the youth decide and take the lead,” Clark said.

Clark said her favorite quote from King is, "Everybody can be great because everybody can serve..." and that the celebratory day has always been a day of service for her, not a day off.

“Having the youth sponsor this program, that they've given consideration in honoring Dr. King’s legacy, is a great way for youth to say that they’re still here and their voice matters and that they can honor the legacy of Dr. King,” Clark said. 

As King's philosophy focused on non-violence and movements to create change, Clark said she hopes the celebration is an opportunity for youth and community members to celebrate King’s legacy and think about ways to be impactful and create change for everyone in the community.

N.C. Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, will be one of the three main speakers of the event.

“I think that a generation has failed to educate our young people about the many losses people suffered in order to preserve our democracy, and that we take our democracy for granted when we shouldn't," Insko said. “I think this is an opportunity to express that this is the next generation of leaders.”

Insko said she aims to point out King’s courage and his ability to be civil.

“He was charismatic and was able to articulate in a moving way, the issues people were feeling, the concerns they had in their hearts," Insko said. "He was able to put that into a really powerful language."

Rani Dasi is a member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education and will also be giving a speech at the event.

"Dr. King’s advocacy for social justice and his care for people around the world is something that we want to represent today,” Dasi said.

Dasi said the main message she hopes attendees will receive from her speech is the sense of humanity and connectedness.

“He wasn't just advocating for Black people — he advocated for poor people, for support for folks in Vietnam and folks everywhere,” Dasi said. “The common care and love underlying his advocacy and his work resonates across the world.”


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