Newsletter Archive (2009)

August 7, 2009


Many thanks to all who came out to the MLK Community Build’s first public meeting on July 7. More than sixty enthusiastic community members from diverse backgrounds came to find out more about this exciting new initiative to distribute 10,000 copies of Martin Luther King Jr’s last book to the public. To those of you who couldn’t make the meeting but want to be involved, there will be many more opportunities to do that, and we hope you’ll join us.

The reasons people stated for getting involved in this project are truly inspiring. Just a few examples of what people had to say at the meeting:

• “I really like how this initiative gives the community an ideal to work towards and gives us a common language and ideas to build on.”
• “I am a scholar of King (and Malcolm X); I have been mentored in ministry by persons directly influenced by King. I want to be supportive as a resource and contributor.”
• “I have an interest in learning more about current community relations and ways I may be able to help strengthen them.”

MLK Community Build Mission and Book Distribution

The mission of The Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Build is to engage all sectors of the community in realizing, as King said, that “we are tied in a single garment of destiny.” We will come together through shared readings, discussions, and events based on the writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our first major project is to have 10,000 copies of Dr. Martin Luther King’s last book “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” reprinted especially for people in the Tompkins County area. The books will be distributed to people of all ages via schools, book clubs, non-profit and social service agencies, etc. We will also have audio books created. Our Kick-Off date is set for January 18, 2010.

It will take a huge community effort to ensure that we raise the money to print the books and make sure they reach the whole community. To that end, we have formed several sub-committees to get this project off the ground. At the meeting on July 7, we discussed the purpose of each committee and asked folks to sign up for specific committees. Those committees, along with the contacts, are listed below:

Coordination and Distribution of Books:

• Sarah Glogowski, Reference Librarian, Tompkins County Public Library, 607-272 -4557 ext. 255,

Funding and Finance:

• Brigid Hubberman, Executive Director, Family Reading Partnership, 607-227-3360

Resource & Material Development:

• Barry Derfel, Instructional Specialist for Educational Equity, ICSD. 607-229-8860
• Kim Fontana, Director, Staff Development and Research, ICSD, 607-229-5545,

Programming and Outreach:

• Eric Acree, Director, Africana Library, Cornell University, 607-255-5229,
• Brenda Kuhn, community member,

Public Relations:

• Liz Field, Diversity & Inclusion Special Projects Coordinator, Multicultural Resource Center, 607-272-2292 ext 191,

We’ve also added a new subcommittee since the July 7 meeting:

• Family Read, co-chaired by Brigid and Sarah Hubberman, 607-227-3360

The committee chairs will be reaching out to those who expressed interest in joining their committees. If you would like to join or learn more about a sub-committee, please contact the chair listed above.

MLK Community Build in the news:

Thanks to Ann Marie Cummings and Taryn Thomspon for writing two great articles for the Tompkins Weekly and Ithaca Times, respectively. You can read them online here:

Thanks again to all the community who support this initiative. We will be in touch with updates on our progress and information about future public meetings. If you’d like to be added to this list, please contact Liz Field and let her know,

All the Best,

Elizabeth Field
On behalf of the MLK Coordinating Committee

July 7, 2009

MLK Community Build: Where Do We Go From Here?

Handout from our first public meeting July 7, 2009

What are the Mission and Goals of the MLK Community Build?

Our mission is to build community by bringing people together across racial, economic and political backgrounds through a shared reading/exploration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s writings – particularly his last book, "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?" We hope to engage the community in realizing, as Dr. King said, that "we are tied in a single garment of destiny," recognizing that "whatever affects one of us directly, affects all of us indirectly."

About the book, the special re-printing for our community, and accessibility:

"Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?", first published in 1967, has been out of print for a number of years, and the last printings of the book excluded two key chapters. We are very pleased that the publisher has agreed to reprint the entire book for this special initiative, including the missing chapters. The re-printed book will feature a forward by Dorothy Cotton, and an introduction by Sean Eversley-Bradwell and Barry Derfel, to tie it back to our community. Audio rights have also been secured and a recording of the book will be produced so that it is accessible to all. It is our intent to find funding so that the books and audio recordings will be free and available across the community.

Who is the audience?

Everyone. Anyone. Hopefully, many, many folks. If a goal is to connect resources and relationships, a community read only works if we talk to one another. This means crossing and breaking through barriers that prevent cross-dialogue. Focusing a conversation on a similar topic greatly assists understanding and relationship and community building.

How will families and children participate?

In addition to "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?" being read and discussed by many, "My Brother Martin," a children’s book written by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s sister, Christine King Ferris, will be distributed across the community to encourage a "family one-book read." The book is about growing up in the King family, MLK’s childhood, and his vision and promise to someday "turn the world upside down."

What organization is organizing the MLK Community Build?

We see this very much as a community-wide collaboration and all are welcome. The core committee is currently comprised of members from a number of local educational and non-profit organizations, including: the Africana Library at Cornell University; The Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity at Ithaca College; teachers and staff developers from the ICSD; the Family Reading Partnership; the Multicultural Resource Center; the Village at Ithaca; the Tompkins County Public Library, and many community members.

Distribution and Funding:

We plan to distribute books and the audio recordings across the community through a multitude of organizations, businesses and networks that reach everywhere and everyone. It is important to us that the books be free, with donations welcome. We are still in the process of securing funding and hope to make that announcement soon. Ideas for funders are welcome.

What are the possible outcomes?

If the project strengthens and builds a community network, it should be measured as a success. In reality, the possible outcomes are infinite. Personal growth. Community transformation. World Peace. If, as King states, “We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality,” then the best possible outcome of a community read is the connections between community resources and relationships. We hope to link existing efforts, building bridges between organizations and individuals.

Some of our intentions/methods:

• The shared experience of reading the same book will spark a multitude of outcomes that will better our community by seeding new relationships.
• Community members will be exposed to the depth and breadth of MLK, Jr. and his teachings.
• We’ll increase knowledge and understanding of race and racism, both historical and present day implications in our community and schools.
• Serve as a catalyst for community exploration and dialogue on where are we now and where do we go from here around issues of racial and economic justice.
• Serve as a catalyst for family/home, school and business, organizational and community conversations about race, institutional racism and equity.
• Increase recognition that conversations about race may be difficult and uncomfortable, but we must have them to move forward.
• Bring light and new understanding to the realities of invisible and visible white privilege.
• Inspire personal, organization and community action around issues of equity, equality, racial understanding, and the elimination of racism.
• Move toward “Beloved Community” in our own community
• Serve as catalyst for new and ongoing engagement around race, racism and equity
• Engage youth in actively building community
• Engage and bring together students across levels around issues of equity, racism and racial understanding
• Plant seeds of understanding MLK philosophies with young children
• Engage all sectors of the community in understanding that we are “tied together in a single garment of destiny,” and what effects one of us directly affects all of us indirectly.

For more information please contact:

Eric Kofi Acree, Director
Africana Library, Cornell University

Liz Field, Diversity & Inclusion Special Projects Coordinator
Multicultural Resource Center
607-272-2292 ext 191