The Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation: 4th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration

January 16, 2020 / Art and Music, Things to Do & See


The event will be held Monday, January 20, 2020, from 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. in the historic 1806 Gloucester Meetinghouse, on the green at the corner of Church and Middle Streets. The program will unveil extensive research by the Cape Ann Slavery and Abolition Trust (CASAT) that documents the role that the industry of slavery had on Cape Ann from the 1700s until the Civil War. Alvin Foster and his Soul Eclectic band will provide music. Byron Rushing, past president of the Boston Museum of African-American History, and a longtime state representative and civil rights leader will deliver the keynote address. A panel discussion with Q&A follows. The program concludes with a slide show and audio recording of Martin Luther King, Jr. and ringing the Paul Revere bell for freedom. The program is free – all are welcome.


The Cape Ann Slavery and Abolition Trust (CASAT) is a joint undertaking of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Rockport and the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church. CASAT’s research has documented a profoundly important topic often hidden from view. Their work has uncovered the stories of slave owners and traders and their vessels, as well as the stories of formerly enslaved people, local abolitionists, and clergy. In addition to the presentation on MLK Day, CASAT organizers and researchers will officially launch the online presence of their work on January 20.

Alvin Foster returns to Gloucester, performing for the second year in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration and has earned a loyal following of fans from his appearances in the Music on Meetinghouse Green Summer Series. He is a vocalist, music director, songwriter, and teacher, specializing in soul music from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Foster describes his approach to music as, “playing soul music underlying Black people’s courage to be happy and celebrate life, love, spirituality, and growth in the face of racism.”

Byron Rushing served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for 36 years and represented the Ninth Suffolk District. He was a member of the House Committee on Rules and the Joint Committee on Rules for many years and a member of the House Committee on Ethics. He is well-known as a civil rights activist and was an original sponsor of the Massachusetts bill in support of gay rights. He served as President of the Museum of Afro-American History from 1972-1985 and was instrumental in the preservation of the country’s oldest African-American church building, Boston’s historic African-American Meetinghouse.

Panel Discussion and Q&A
Mr. Rushing joins Cape Ann Slavery and Abolition Trust researchers for a panel discussion with an opportunity for audience questions.

Martin Luther King in his own words
Concluding the MLK Day Celebration will be a slide show and audio recording of Martin Luther King, Jr. and ringing the Paul Revere bell for freedom.