---- — The Merrimack Valley Branch of the NAACP will mark the Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. next Monday with its traditional breakfast and a program honoring the memory of the slain civil rights leader.
The event begins at 8:30 a.m. at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, 50 Warren St., downtown Lowell. Dr. King would have turned 84 on Jan. 15 of this year.
Reservations may be made by calling 978-452-8577. Tickets are $40 for adults and $20 for students.
Bishop Stanley O. Choate, pastor of New England Pentecostal Ministries in Pelham, will be the keynote speaker.
The holiday this year falls on the same say as the second inauguration of the first African American president, but Dr. King was not a politician and should not be seen as a political figure, said Aston G. Moore, newly elected president of the NAACP branch.
“Dr. King never held public office, but worked for the good of all people outside of the political system,” Moore said. “In these difficult times, when politics is often divisive, his message of working together for the benefit of all is more important than ever.”
Along with a hearty, Southern-style breakfast and gospel music, the Merrimack Valley Branch will honor one of its longtime members, Enid Rocha of Chelmsford. She will receive the Samuel S. Crayton Sr. Award for Community Service. Among her many good works, she was a social studies teacher for 20 years at the Bartlett School and established the Joseph Rocha NAACP Scholarship in memory of her late husband.
Bishop Choate is the dean of pastors in the Merrimack Valley. In 1969 he was called to be the pastor with his wife, the Rev. Ruth Choate, of a small house church in Lowell. Soon the New England Pentecostal Church moved to a church building on Blossom Street. In 1987 , God led the now Bishop Choate to move the church to its current location, 327 Gage Hill Road, Pelham, N.H., where Bishop Choate and his wife continue their charismatic ministry to the Merrimack Valley. For more information, go to mvb-naacp.org.