WELLFLEET — Between two big winter storms, the sun came out long enough for townspeople of all ages to gather for reflection and action for racial justice on the Jan. 15 birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.
The day’s events, organized by Sara Blandford, Harriet Korim, and the nonprofit ArtPeaceMakers, started with drumming, singing, and chalk drawing next to town hall. About 150 people formed a circle offering donations to the local food pantry as Jim Kershner provided background on what has become an annual ritual here — a silent walk down Wellfleet’s Main Street.
Kershner spoke about Dr. King’s friendship with Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese poet and peace activist who inspired King to speak out against the Vietnam War. “The silent walk,” Blandford told the Independent, “is a nod to the Buddhist practice of walking meditations.”
Afterwards, there was a full house for the presentation of Judith Partelow’s Neighbors at Wellfleet Preservation Hall. The play is a collection of stories of experiences of racism on Cape Cod.
This MLK Day was not just one of reflection but one of action, Blandford said. “There is nothing passive about sitting there, listening, bearing witness to our community members’ experiences of racism,” she said. “You have to hold the pain of people’s hurt, which is part of educating ourselves.”
A table with information about legislative agenda items was busy, with people signing letters in support of the Act to Advance Health Equity and of the Indigenous Legislative Agenda — a slate of five bills. “We ran out of letters,” Blandford said.
Art by Wellfleet Elementary School students is always part of the MLK Day in Wellfleet. This year’s, the 22nd for Art PeaceMakers, was no different. “Except this year the show also features works by community friends and professional artists,” Blandford said.
The ArtPeaceMaker’s MLK Art Show for Racial Justice is on view at Preservation Hall through Jan. 29. —Teresa Parker