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For Lynn’s Community Minority Cultural Center, the fight for equality continues

From left, CMCC board member Andrew Burton, Executive DIrector William Lott Jr., and Secretary Darrell Murkison are planning out the upcoming year, including the 33rd Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast on Jan. 21. (Spenser R. Hasak)

Founded in the turbulent years following Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, the Community Minority Cultural Center (CMCC) marked a major landmark last year and will celebrate another one in three weeks.

The organization recently marked its 20th year in 298 Union St. and will host the 33rd annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast Monday, Jan. 21, 8-11 a.m., at the Knights of Columbus, 177 Lynnfield St.

Andrew Burton and fellow board members hope breakfast, music and keynote speaker Dr. Patrick Tutwiler, Lynn’s public schools superintendent, attract a crowd.

“Lynn is a melting pot and that was Dr. King’s dream: to show that we can come together,” Burton said.

Burton is a CMCC board of directors member along with board secretary Darrell Murkison, assistant secretary Gail Rayndles, Dr. Minnette Lall, William Lott Jr. and Pearl Brown.

The board presidency and vice presidency seats are currently vacant but Lott, son of William Lott Sr., former Family & Children’s Services of Greater Lynn vice president, oversees day-to-day events scheduling.

The board uses the money raised from the breakfast and other fundraising efforts to offer CMCC programs, including English as a second language. Events in 2019 include Black Excellence Community Service Awards planned for the spring and voter registration drives.

Burton said the awards will honor “people of color who are making a difference in the city of Lynn.”

CMCC is rooted in a collaboration between the NAACP and Model Cities, a federal social services program that operated in Lynn from 1968 to 1975.

“The mission was to create opportunity and jobs for people of color in the city and to strengthen people,” Murkison said.

A who’s who of Lynn civil rights advocates including Frances Taggart, Clarence Jones, Virginia Barton, Jimmy Granberry, William P.B. Walker and George Anderson stepped up to support the CMCC. The organization pushed to get people of color hired by the city and became a galvanizing force for mobilizing around national issues at the local level.

The late Abner W. Darby served as CMCC director for 27 years and stood at the center of the 1998 effort to create a new Union Street home for the organization.

“It was the mecca for people of color. It was the place to come if an issue arose,” Burton said.

CMCC had already moved to its Union Street location with its two-story foyer and ample office space when Burton attended a meeting to react to the fatal shooting of African-American teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012.

Burton’s mother, Pamela, launched Save Our Souls a year earlier as a foundation to promote youth anti-violence activities. Pamela Burton died in 2015, but her son wants to carry on her legacy by making SOS a branch of the CMCC hosting youth activities.

CMCC will follow up the MLK breakfast with a February schedule packed with Black History Month events. Last year’s events included a Kwanza workshop, a black poets seminar and a discussion on the movie “Black Panther.”

Murkison said Black History Month is an opportunity to highlight CMCC’s enduring message.

“We need to hold leaders to account and show people what their history has been and to not become too complacent,” he said.

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