At Peabody’s King celebration: teen summit, talk by Mayor Harp, performances, more

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Children learn a dance with the Kouffin Kanecke Company. (Photo by J.Irizarry)

The Yale Peabody Museum’s free two-day celebration, “20th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy of Environmental and Social Justice 2016,” will take place on Sunday and Monday, Jan. 17 and 18.

Sunday’s program runs from noon to 4 p.m.; Monday’s from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thanks to presenting sponsor Comcast, the event is free and open to the public.

See other Yale events celebrating the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

Both days there will be performances and educational activities for families and people of all ages and backgrounds. All events will take place at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, 170 Whitney Ave., except for Monday afternoon storytelling, which will be hosted free of charge by The New Haven Museum, a half block from the Peabody at 114 Whitney Ave.

The annual celebration recognizes Martin Luther King’s efforts to ensure environmental and social justice for all people. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” he once proclaimed.

The term “environmental justice,” coined long after his death, is based on the principle that all members of society have the right to clean air, water, and soil, as well as a right to live in communities where they can raise their families and send their kids out to play in healthy and nurturing natural environments.

Events and activities will help demonstrate how King strove to raise awareness about public health concerns and urban environmental issues that disproportionately affect minorities and low-income communities. Local organizations will be on hand both days to show how environmental justice also entails equal access to relief and community participation in the decisions of government and industry.

Talk by Mayor Toni Harp ’78 M.E.D.

Sunday’s highlights include a 3 p.m. address by New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, honorary chair of the event, who will discuss some of the challenges — including education, racism, violence and gun control — facing communities in the city, and share her vision for New Haven.

Teen Summit

Also featured on Sunday is the Peabody’s 7th annual Teen Summit. Taking place from noon to 2:30 p.m., this interactive workshop will focus on conflict resolution through forgiveness. Motivational speaker Hashim Garrett of Breaking the Cycle of Violence Through Forgiveness will address teens from around the state on sensitive topics such as school violence, peer pressure, bullying, racism and intolerance, and suicidal isolation. There will be free pizza and certificates of participation will be handed out.

The program is open to all teens but advance registration is required by Jan. 14. Register online at, or text MLK followed by your name or group name to 860-573-1365.

Poetry slam and participatory drum circle

Monday’s program features the Zannette Lewis Social and Environmental Community Poetry Open Mic, the annual Zannette Lewis Environmental and Social Justice Invitational Poetry Slam, and a participatory drum circle and drum finale. Afternoon storytelling will take place at The New Haven Museum, 114 Whitney Ave. 

Additional support for the event comes from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Stop & Shop, Subway, and the Yale University Office of New Haven and State Affairs.

The Peabody Museum of Natural History is located at 170 Whitney Ave. For more information, visit the museum’s website.

Peabody hosting food drive as part of celebration

Recognizing that one in seven families in the state struggle to put food on the table, the Yale Peabody Museum is hosting a food drive as part of its Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.

Donations of non-perishable food items for the New Haven Community Soup Kitchen and Christian Community Action will be accepted through Jan. 19 at the museum, 170 Whitney Ave. Items past their expiration date cannot be accepted. See the suggested donations. For more information send email to or call 203-432-6646.

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