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2024 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Observance Celebration

Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and join your community in a crucial conversation about how we can dispel the darkness of hate by raising our collective voices of love and our hopes for a better and brighter tomorrow. 

This virtual Martin Luther King Jr. observance, presented by the Schenectady County Human Rights Commission, continues the work of Dr. King by building a bridge to a Tolerance Highway. 

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Watch Online

Featuring artistic expressions with purpose

Keynote Address
Author Dr. Janet Dewart Bell

Spoken Word
by Freedom McBride
Spoken word contains adult language and themes



Hatred is not inherited; it is a learned behavior that tears into the very fabric of the American dream.

Let's raise our collective voices to end hate & bias in all forms. Inspired by the words and love of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. simply submit an essay of 200 -250 words with an opinion, comment, or short story that illustrates how love can drive out hate.

Share Your Voice Now!

Program Presenters & Artists 

Dr. Janet Dewart Bell

Dr. Janet Dewart Bell

Dr. Janet Dewart Bell is a social justice activist, strategist, scholar, public speaker, and author. She holds a doctorate in leadership and change from Antioch University.

As the Founder and President of LEAD InterGenerational Solutions, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing democracy and social justice, Dr. Bell focuses on promoting democratic principles and leadership through an intergenerational lens.

Additionally, Dr. Bell serves as the executive producer and host of the  LEADing Justice podcast. The podcast engages in provocative and informative discussions on elevating truth, democracy, and justice, tackling some of the most challenging issues.

A veteran of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Bell has been a senior executive and key strategist at several national organizations. She also holds the position of Adjunct Assistant Professor at Baruch College and was a Visiting Research Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. There, she co-taught a constitutional law course with her late husband, Professor Derrick Bell.

Dr. Bell's commitment to education is evident through her contributions, including the founding of the Derrick Bell Lecture Series on Race in American Society at New York University School of Law, now in its 28th year. She also established the Derrick Bell Fund for Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Her book, "Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement"is a groundbreaking collection of profiles of Black women leaders in the 20th century fight for civil rights. Dr. Bell's forthcoming work, "Blackbirds Singing," celebrates the tradition of Black women’s political speech and labor, bridging voices and visions across generations to build power for the world.

In addition to her academic and literary achievements, Dr. Bell is an award-winning television and radio producer, earning an Emmy for outstanding individual achievement and a Peabody Award for programming on preserving the African and African-American culture and history of Sea Islands for National Public Radio.

Recognized for her contributions, Dr. Bell is a 2023 awardee of the Black Voices for Black Justice Fund. She actively serves on the boards of Antioch University, the Authors Guild Foundation, and the Women’s Media Center, where she holds the position of chair. As an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church USA, Dr. Bell brings a holistic perspective to her work and activism.

Freedom McBride

Freedom McBride

Latasha “Freedom” McBride was born and raised in Syracuse N.Y.  She moved to Albany N.Y to attend Suny Albany in 1996 and Graduated with a B.A in English and a minor in Sociology in 2000.  Mrs. McBride received her Masters in liberal Arts in 2002.  While living in Albany she found her true passion of the arts and love for creative writing.  As her talents grew she realized her words and creative output could help heal, change and educate a wide audience of people.  Her span of work has ranged from domestic violence, HIV/AIDS awareness, self Love, suicide, and intriguing topics that always help to motivate and push the limits of theatre.  While coming into her true talent, she gained respects of many community leaders, building on partnerships that made her become a known theatrical beacon to be recognized while performing in a variety of cities in N.Y.

Two her of greatest accomplishment this far is winning first place at the famous Apollo theatre in N.Y and co-writer of an impactful book about HIV/AIDS, Courage My Child.

Feeling as if she had done and surpassed all her goal in Albany, N.Y. Mrs. McBride knew her long-term goal was to become a Police officer.  After taking and passing the civil servant test in Albany, she also knew she was ready to out of state.  In 2008 she was hired as a Baltimore City Police Officer, where she is still currently employed. Being a police officer she has become a consistent hand in helping her build the community.  Throughout the years she has fed the homeless, worked in re-entry programs for inmates coming back into society, prayer walks, youth development, and more importantly, upholding the law.

While Mrs. McBride’s career continued to flourish she missed her love of theater and being on stage in front of a live audience.  In 2012 she wrote and put on her first stage play “Common Threads” in Partnership with Vanessa Johnson.  From there, she hosted many open mics and performed spoken word in a number of events throughout the state. While Videotaping each performance, Mrs. McBride realized she had forgotten about her eye for photographer.  Freedom Photography was started and 2020 and has continued to grow up until this present time.  She is looking forward to what’s to come in the future and excited about all the creative ventures that will take place in the upcoming year.