UPDATED, Jan. 22: The 32nd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Observance was held Monday, Jan. 20, featuring attorney Michael Curry, on the national NAACP Board of Directors and past president of the NAACP Boston branch. An estimated 250 people attended.

Michael CurryMichael

Martin Luther King Jr.Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The MLK Committee recognized the late Judi Paradis, an Arlington activist, librarian and leader who died last May, for her remarkable contributions to society in the spirit of Dr. King. 

Residents of Arlington and greater Boston celebrated in words and song at Town Hall.

Under the baton of Leroy Streat,“The Brotherhood” choir from the Concord Baptist Church will rouse the crowd with rich harmonies and spirited singing.

 At the end of the evening, the versatile pianist Paul White accompanied the audience in singing the dramatic “Anthem of Freedom.”


In between there was a discourse about the slain civil rights leader and his important legacy.

Nonperishable goods for the Arlington Food Pantry were accepted.

A free-will offering benefits public and nonprofit programs that further the goals of Dr. King.

The event, hosted by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Observance Committee, was free and open to the public.

Judi ParadisJudi Paradis / family photo

Outstanding achievement in memoriam: Paradis

Judi Paradis was a key leader in the school library community. As a champion of social justice, diversity, multiculturalism, and advocacy, her dedication, leadership, creativity, and enthusiasm inspired many school librarians — and virtually everyone she met.

Judi, who succumbed to cancer on April 28, 2019, dedicated many years to the Massachusetts School Library Association and school libraries. In 2003 as a student at Salem State University,
Judi won the Audrey Friend Scholarship. She quickly became involved in MSLA and would come to serve as cochair of its legislative committee, as well as secretary and president.

As MSLA President, Judi advocated for a statewide study to examine equity of access to school library programs in our public schools. In 2014, the State Legislature’s Special Commission on
School Library Services in Massachusetts was created.

Her connection to Arlington was enduring. Judi served as the first coordinator of the Russell Fund at Arlington’s Robbins Library, a
role that she held for 10 years. After getting her library degree at Salem State, she served as a librarian at the Peirce and Stratton
schools, as well as chair of the Friends of Robbins Library.

Judi received many accolades. In 2010, she was recognized with the MSLA "Super Librarian Award." When the President of the American Association of School Libraries toured the U.S., Judi's Plympton Elementary School in Waltham was the Massachusetts showcase school library. In 2016, she received the MSLA Service Award and in 2018 was honored with the MSLA Lifetime Achievement Award.
Always humble, always kind, always in our hearts.

Musical performance: The Brotherhood Chorus

In 1916, sixteen believers gathered for prayer at the home of Sister Lydia Glover at 14 Northfield St. in Boston. Each was inspired to serve God. Realizing the need for an established place for worship, encouragement, outreach and living its mission led the congregants to form what is now Concord Baptist Church of Boston. On Jan. 20,  we welcome the church’s Brotherhood Chorus, led by Deacon Earl Tabon, choir president, and Leroy Streat, minister of music.

Paul White, director of music ministry, Peoples Baptist Church of Boston, has performed throughout the United States and internationally as a recitalist, with his jazz trio Paul White & Company, and with a host of gifted artists including the Rev. James
Cleveland, Bill Gaither, Billy Preston and Nina Simone. He has opened for major artists, including the renowned a cappella group Take Six.

Main speaker's background

Curry is the immediate past president of the Boston branch of the NAACP (2011-2016). He has more than years of service to the NAACP on the city, state-area conference and national levels.

Elected to the national NAACP Board of Directors in 2014, Curry was recently reappointed to the National NAACP’s Executive Committee, and appointed to chair the national board’s Advocacy & Policy Committee and vice chair of the Political Action and Legislation Committee.

As president of the Boston branch, he used his experience from the Leadership 500 Summit and embraced the challenge of reviving the nation’s first chartered branch, established in 1911, and has been effective at recruiting the next-generation civil-rights leaders to the Boston NAACP. To advance the mission of the NAACP, he draws on legislative, regulatory and public-affairs experience, as well as his work in civil rights, business and health law.

Extreme circumstances may raise or topple a person. Michael Curry had a dangerous childhood living in Boston housing projects. His single mother was on welfare. Crack cocaine use, unemployment, violence and incarceration were hallmarks of his neighborhood. Everything Michael witnessed convinced him he must escape this dead end environment.

He attended Boston Latin Academy, then got his B.A. from Macalester College in Minnesota. He earned his J.D. from New England School of Law. He was in the first class to graduate from the Executive Leadership Council’s Pipeline to Leadership Program. Michael Curry indeed rose up, but did not turn his back; social justice and civil rights advocacy inform all his work and keep him very busy. He also has joint custody of his three sons, Marcus, Michael, Jr., and Malcolm.

Three months ago, Curry was promoted to Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the non-profit Mass League of Community Health Centers, where he specializes in health policy and regulatory issues. He has also risen to the heights of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. When president of the Boston Branch of the NAACP from 2011-2016, Curry won the Chairman’s Trophy, over thousands of other branch leaders, for having the highest NAACP membership surge in the country.

His charisma, wisdom, and leadership skills invigorate recruits to work on the NAACP’s Mission: “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.” Curry’s Boston meetings were chock full and, most importantly, attracted young leaders who bolster the relevance and influence of this oldest chartered branch of the NAACP.

In 2014 Curry was elected to the National Board of Directors of the NAACP where he currently serves on six of its committees. He is Chair of the National Board’s Advocacy and Policy Committee, Vice-Chair of the Political Action and Legislative Committee, and on the Image Award and Constitution Review Committees. Curry served on the Roxbury Community College Board from 2012-2017. His views and expertise are often solicited by NPR/WBUR and WGBH, WBZ and N. E. Cable News.

Attendees are encouraged to bring non-perishable food donations, destined for the Arlington Food Pantry: Arlington EATS, to the Observance. A free-will offering will be collected during the evening. Along with the donations from our loyal sponsors, the proceeds go to support local educational initiatives that promote racial sensitivity, familiarity, and understanding.

Anyone who cannot attend but would like to contribute, may send a check to the MLK, Jr. Observance Committee, Box 320, Arlington, MA, 02476. Donations are tax-exempt. This committee is an interfaith group centered in Arlington, but separate from town management.

May 7, 2019: Hundreds say goodbye to a librarian who had an impact

This news announcement was published Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, and updated Jan. 11, to add music and biographical information from Kate Cubeta. Updated Jan. 17, to add information about Judi Paradis from the program, and Jan. 22, to add attendance.