On January 16, 2023 The Arc of Delaware hosted a day of service honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Over 50 residents of neighborhood homes in Delaware, along with staff members and volunteers gathered at the Oasis church in Newark, DE to learn about Dr. King and his nonviolent struggle for civil rights for all Americans. Individuals with IDD were featured speakers and singers for the event.

After an opening blessing by Pastor Harold Darner, the group was welcomed by Jesse Benson, who also introduced staff member Vanessa Withers-Little as Mistress of Ceremonies.

The program began with “The Star Spangled Banner,” sung acapella by Jordan Little. This was followed by a recording of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” dubbed the Negro national anthem for its power in voicing a cry for liberation and affirmation for African American people.

Next, Alex Braithwaite provided a keynote speech describing the history and significance of Dr. King’s life and achievements toward social justice for all races and marginalized people.

This was followed by staff member Keyah French reading Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, which expressed his vision for a more diverse America where all people enjoyed the benefits of equality.

Jordan Little next took the stage for a final song about inclusion and belonging with his rendition of “Go the Distance.”

Executive Director Susannah Eaton-Ryan closed the program with some words of thanks and an invitation to enjoy the refreshments and art activities. These included coloring options and, in line with the theme, provisions for making individualized dreamcatchers.

“The staff and volunteers worked really hard to put together a meaningful Day of Service, enabling many people living in our neighborhood homes to participate in a significant cultural event,” said Susannah. “As we expand our outreach efforts this year, we expect to provide more opportunities for people with disabilities to learn about and take part in similar events.”