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‘Our hope for better days’: MLK day in Canandaigua

A letter penned in a Birmingham, Alabama jail nearly 55 years ago continues to impact the world and resonate with people today as much as it did when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. penned it in April 1963.

The letter, in response to injustices, civil unrest and a group of white clergymen calling for unity, sparked King’s call for continued nonviolent action.

“We are here once again to give witness to the work of a citizen of the United States who understood equality and justice,” said Canandaigua Mayor Ellen Polimeni, opening the city’s 19th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day community celebration, conducted at the First Congregational Church. “He tried to promote equality and justice nonviolently and he paid the ultimate price for doing so.”

Polimeni recalled first reading the letter back in 1963 when she was a senior at what is now known as The College at Brockport, a prelude to her lengthy career teaching in the Canandaigua City School District.

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