Co-sponsored by the Cohasset Diversity Committee and the Cohasset Clergy, the 20th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Pancake Breakfast and Celebration drew a crowd interested in hearing the message delivered by guest speaker, De’Shawn Washington, on what would have been Dr. King’s 95th birthday, this past Monday, January 15, 2024.
Hosted this year by First Parish in Cohasset and welcomed by Rev. Dan Harper, 135 attendees gathered from 9-11am in Trueblood Hall at the Parish House to witness a fitting continuation of Dr. King’s legacy. Aleisa Gittens-Cole, Director of the Cohasset METCO Program, introduced De’Shawn, the 2024 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year and first black male recipient of the award, who spoke about his experience in both the classroom and the community outlining the importance of service and volunteerism, building and sustaining a sense of community, finding peaceful approaches to conflict resolution, leading with positivity, and cultivating change through knowledge and advocacy. Standing at a podium draped with the Pan-African flag symbolizing black freedom, Mr. Washington finished his oration, read a poem he wrote about King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and then dedicated himself to an inquisitive audience providing insightful answers to thought-provoking questions.
The event was further enhanced by a delicious breakfast expertly prepared by a kitchen crew led by First Parish Member, Pete Parker, serving variations of egg strata, different flavors of pancakes, mini-muffins, sausage links, fresh fruit, hot coffee, and more. The crowd was treated to the singing of the First Parish Choir along with some new friends, accompanied on piano by Music Director, Mary Beth Courtright. The Cohasset Clergy cited excerpts from King’s most famous speeches – his own words a welcome echo of his lasting and powerful impact.
To end the program, the crowd stood together to join in the closing song and Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” filling the room with those words of “solemn yet hopeful appeal for liberty” which became the rallying cry of the Civil Rights Movement.
A ten-year volunteer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts, De’Shawn directed all $1,355 in proceeds from the event to that organization to further their mission of partnering with under-resourced families offering mentoring programs to at-risk youths.