‘Handle Your Situation’: Stirring Sermon, ABC House Student Address at MLK Day Service

In important ways, race relations in the United States in recent years recall the nation’s civil unrest of the 1950s and ’60s—the years during which Dr. Martin Luther King became most active, a New Canaan High School senior said Monday morning. After wrestling with issues such as police brutality and domestic terrorism, “from the Trayvon Martin case of 2012 to what took place in Ferguson [Mo.], Charleston and Dallas over the last three years, the country has an increasing desire to put such tensions to rest,” Rajon Mitchell, an ABC House of New Canaan student, said during a special service at United Methodist Church. “To sum up the issues of the ‘60s and today in a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King himself: ‘People fail to get along because they fear each other, they fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other,’ ” Mitchell told more than 200 people gathered at the South Avenue church for an annual “Service of Remembrance” on Martin Luther King Day. “While it is true for both eras, there is one thing that separates this day from the 1960s, and that is the means of communication. In an age where the entire world is your audience when you post something online, we have an opportunity to build bridges between communities, in an era where communities and cultures that may never have known that each other existed 350 years ago now know are able to connect and share in a cultural fusion.

‘We Can Do It’: ABC Alumnus Leads Stirring MLK Day Service in New Canaan

Reading the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “The Other America” speech put Jason Michael Land in mind of something that his grandmother used to say. A 2003 New Canaan High School graduate and ABC student here in town who has since gone on to Yale Divinity School, Land on Monday morning recalled that she would say “God made us all in his image—not some of us black and inferior, not some of us white and superior.”

“Believe it or not, I learned this lesson here, in New Canaan, the ‘Next Station To Heaven’ ” Land told more than 200 people gathered inside United Methodist Church on South Avenue for an annual service in remembrance of King. “Now I would be lying if I said that it was easy, because it definitely was not. However, I did find that I am no better nor worse than anyone else. I did learn that I have a mother and brothers and sisters who look nothing like me, but who will support and defend me to the very end.

VIDEO: 2014 New Canaan Memorial Day Parade, Service

New Canaan Memorial Day Parade, May 26, 2014
Uploaded by Michael Dinan on 2014-05-26. The video above (there’s also a slideshow here) features clips from New Canaan’s 2014 Memorial Day Parade—held on a picture-perfect, clear and warm spring day—as well as from the solemn, dignified ceremony at Lakeview Cemetery that followed. There, we heard from the Rev. Eric Fjeldal of the United Methodist Church on South Avenue, as well as First Selectman Rob Mallozzi, Peter Langenus, commander of VFW Post 653, and guest speaker Gary Macintyre of New Canaan, a U.S. Navy veteran. Wreaths were placed at the bottom of a flagpole later lowered to half-mast in honor of the United States’ fallen military members, including by Grand Marshal John Wilson. In introducing Macintyre, Mallozzi described him as both a “longtime New Canaan resident and small business owner.”

Macintyre started his career in the U.S. Navy as a reservist, Mallozzi said, and after graduating from Norwalk Community College he went on to active duty as a petty officer in navigation on board the USS Grand Canyon.