what would dr Martin Luther King Jr say today?

“The time is always right to do the right thing.” – dr Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, January 15, 2022, would Dr. King will be 94 years old. He was murdered on April 4, 1968 at the age of 39, but he lives on with us for all he did in his fight against hate and discrimination and for his efforts towards acceptance, peace and love.

Portsmouth residents played a role in encouraging our state’s leaders to institute Martin Luther King Jr. Day. During the 1970s through the 1980s, on very cold days and nights, people from Portsmouth marched from New Hope Baptist Church on Pearl Street to Market Square, led by members of the congregation and supported by Mayor Eileen Foley and others. Leaders including Nate Holloway and Dr. Arthur Hilson, brought the long fight to the New Hampshire State House. Finally, after about 20 years, our state became the last in the nation to institute Martin Luther King Jr. Day with the signature of Governor Jeanne Shaheen in 1999.

One of my fondest memories is of a warm, sunny day, June 7, 1999, at noon in front of the State House, when I was assigned the task of reading out the names of dozens of legislators proposing bills recognizing Dr. King co-sponsored. His son was present along with a crowd of several hundred.

That list was long, with many from the Portsmouth area including State Sens. Beverly Hollingworth of Hampton, Burt Cohen of New Castle, and Elaine Krasker and Martha Fuller Clark of Portsmouth. State representatives included Laura Pantelakos, Jackie Cali-Pitts, Maryann Blanchard and Terie Norelli. The bill passed after a bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives by a vote of 212 to 148, with 70 Republicans supporting 142 Democrats to pass, and by a 19 to 5 vote in the Senate with 12 Democrats and 7 Republicans in favour. Politics was put aside, people came together for a good cause.

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