Join Us: 19th Annual Interfaith Celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday

By Housatonic Heritage

  • Monday, January 15th
    12:00 – 1:00pm
  • Reception at 1:00pm
  • First Congregational Church Parish Hall, 251 Main St, Great Barrington

Professor Wesley Brown – “Martin Luther King, Jr., the Man not the Monument”

A civil rights worker’s personal story of the struggle
In the 1960s, Professor Brown worked on voter registration in the South with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

Professor Brown is Visiting Faculty in Social Studies and the Arts, Bard College at Simon’s Rock and Professor Emeritus in English at Rutgers University.

Free Public Event – Please bring an item of nonperishable food for People’s Pantry

Reclaiming Our Cooperative Heritage – Three phases:

  • 1) 18th Annual Interfaith Celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday Organized by the Southern Berkshire Clergy Association, our January 15, 2017 event will focus on W.E.B. Du Bois’ advocacy for cooperative enterprises in relation to Dr. King’s leadership on economic justice. Despite fierce criticism, Dr. King strongly supported the dignity of striking sanitation workers in Memphis (where he was assassinated). He also championed the Poor People’s Campaign of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Professor Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Ph.D., recent Cooperative Hall of Fame inductee and proposed keynote speaker, is uniquely qualified to bring historical perspective and contemporary activism to the MLK event. An economist and community economic development expert, she authored Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice. Her research was inspired by W.E.B. Du Bois’ advocacy for African American cooperative enterprises. In 1907, DuBois published Economic Cooperation Among Negro Americans and convened a national conference on Negro Business Development and Cooperatives.

Jessica will also take part in a Community Conversation with young people, civic and business leaders to discuss developing racially and economically diverse worker cooperatives in our region. The MLK event will launch a leadership group to develop Study Circles on creating worker cooperatives.‐gordon‐nembhard/

  • 2) Study Circles on Creating Worker Cooperatives The purpose is to provide in‐depth resources and forums to engage racially and economically diverse youth, working and unemployed people, educators, business civic and faith leaders. A newly formed leadership group will research/adapt the pioneering initiative of the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA) to our rural area. Using the curriculum PACA already developed in collaboration with Jessica Gordon Nembhard, we will seek collaboration with diverse faith and community organizations to match facilitators for each Study Circle.
  • 3) New Website on “Reclaiming Our Cooperative Heritage” and Monthly Radio Program. We will publish multi‐media resources on a newly created website, providing information about the 18th Annual Interfaith Celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday and the Study Circles. We will also promulgate information via a monthly regionally broadcast WSBS radio program.

Reclaiming Our Cooperative Heritage – Du Boisʹ Vision, Kingʹs Dream, Our Opportunity


Inspired by W.E.B. DuBois’ vision of African American prosperity through cooperative enterprises and by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s impassioned defense of all workers’ dignity, we seek to reclaim our region’s cooperative work heritage. We partner with other organizations to engage community members in research, discussion and development of racially and economically diverse worker cooperatives in the Upper Housatonic Valley region.