PORTLAND, MAINE | Twenty Maine Seeds helped organize two Martin Luther King, Jr. Day programs, in partnership with the Portland branch of the NAACP. This is the second year that Seeds of Peace has partnered with the NAACP to provide leadership opportunities for Seeds and introduce them to local community organizations.
Twenty-three Seeds led an MLK Day community dialogue on race and poverty that addressed homelessness, civil rights and education equity on January 21. Nearly 100 participants, including high school students from across the state, attended the afternoon dialogue, held at the Preble Street Resource Center. LearningWorks, Jobs for Maine’s Graduates, the Maine Interfaith Youth Alliance and Portland Public Schools all sent representatives to the meeting.
“The NAACP Community Dialogue was especially excellent this year because of the wonderful energetic young folks with Seeds of Peace, who effectively facilitated the community issue discussions,” said University of New England Assistant Professor Kirsten Thomsen.
“I learned a lot about other people’s prescriptive on racism, homelessness, education in Maine and how Martin Luther King, Jr. worked hard to establish human rights in United States,” said Maine Seed Ghassan.
In preparation for the community dialogue, 20 Seeds joined 26 other high school students from schools across Maine for a daylong facilitation training on January 5 at the Portland Public Library. Participants worked through a simulation, discussed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and learned facilitation skills from Seeds of Peace staff.
Twenty Maine Seeds also participated in the 32nd Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast Celebration at the Portland Holiday Inn on January 22. Mohamed, a 2012 Maine Seed, co-hosted the breakfast, which was attended by over 600 people. Portland Mayor Michael Brennan addressed the gathering about ways to change the language in conversation about at-risk populations.
“Mayor Brennan called for a new language, a move from ‘us’ versus ‘them’ to ‘we,’ ” said Farley, a Seeds of Peace counselor. “And the keynote speaker did a great job in addressing the need to confront conflict in our society, instead of ignoring it and letting it become part of our subconscious.”
Other speakers addressed gun control measures in Maine, racial justice in America, and hunger in Portland.
Seeds who participated in the events came from high schools around the state and included native-born Mainers as well as refugee and immigrant youth from Somalia, Iraq, China, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Ghana, Mexico, Chile and India.
Photos by Robin Farrin courtesy of the NAACP Portland Branch.
MAINE SEEDS LEAD MLK DAY EVENTS