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Local Causes Unite In Stamford For MLK Day

In the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Stamford residents marched in support of better education and an abolishing of the death penalty during MLK Day 2012.

Stamford residents of all ages, motivated by the messages and life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., marched across downtown Stamford in support of various local causes on Monday morning.

"The theme of the march this year is justice, education, and equality," Stamford NAACP president Jack Bryant told Patch.

"We can't rest, we can't rest because we have a black president, but two-thirds of our black elementary students right here in Stamford are reading below grade level, when Connecticut, the third wealthiest state in the nation, has an achievement gap larger than Mississippi, one of the poorest in the nation," Yerwood Center director Eugene Campbell said in a brief speech following the forty-five minute march from to the , where the day's ninety-minute program was held. 

Over two hundred Stamford residents and prominent politicians, such as Mayor Michael Pavia and Congressman Jim Himes (D-4) were present for the 10:30 a.m. walk. While Bethel AME and the Yerwood are actually very close in proximity, the gathered crowd circled Tresser Blvd. to Washington Blvd.

Education was a the cause of choice for most of the politicians in attendance, but the NAACP and its local allies focused much of their attention towards the death penalty in Connecticut. Activity against the death penalty has been relatively high in Stamford within the past two months, largely due to the , who spoke in Stamford in November to raise awareness of the local anti-death penalty cause.

"We're actively following the lead of Ben Jealous, and trying to get it abolished in Connecticut...we're one of the first states in the NAACP to advocate abolishing the death penalty," Bryant said.

According to Bryant, Stamford's NAACP has formed a partnership with the Connectcut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty. CNADP president Ben Jones was present for the March, and later explained CNADP's role in having the death penalty repealed in Connecticut.

"King himself, unsurprisingly, was a staunch opponent of capital punishment; it had no place in his beliefs of non-violence," Jones said.

While voter registration was also a cause represented during the Yerwood Center program, some were present simply to show support for either Bethel AME, the Yerwood Center, or the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"I believe in what King stood for, I believe in what he lived for, and its my hope that one day that we can look back and say 'we will overcome'...or we have overcome," Bethel AME's Rev. LeRoy Ladson said.

"I always supported Dr. King," Stamford resident Charles Miller, 67, told Patch. Miller, originally from Mobile, AL, stated that while he did not march with King, he was active in Civil Rights Movement from where he lived.

Mayor Pavia's cause, however, appeared to be the betterment of Stamford proper. "Despite the cold, we were all out there, and as we were marching, I couldn't help but to think, if Dr. King were still alive, if he were still in this world, and he happened to stop by today, he would be proud to see what he saw in the city of Stamford," Pavia said.

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