2012-01-17 / Front Page

King Day presenters highlight courage at children's event

BY DARREN FISHELL Times Record Staff


CHARLOTTE AGELL, a Brunswick resident who writes and illustrates books for children and young adults, draws children’s portraits during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event Monday at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. CHARLOTTE AGELL, a Brunswick resident who writes and illustrates books for children and young adults, draws children’s portraits during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event Monday at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. BRUNSWICK— Jamaican-born author Rohan Henry said his life would not be the same without the courage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Henry, who lives in Portland, focused on the topic of courage Monday while reading and speaking to approximately 200 local parents and children during the 10th annual children’s celebration of the civil rights leader’s life at Bowdoin College.

“Martin Luther King was the most courageous person I’ve ever heard of,” Henry said following the reading, while carrying his 21-month-old son, Ellis. “He had young children and knew that what he was saying could have caused his life to be shortened.”

That history resonates with the young father and author who said his family’s life would be “ totally different if it weren’t for Martin Luther King.”


JAMAICAN-BORN and Maine children’s book author Rohan Henry reads his book “The Gift Box” to youngsters Monday at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. 
TROY R. BENNETT / THE TIMES RECORD JAMAICAN-BORN and Maine children’s book author Rohan Henry reads his book “The Gift Box” to youngsters Monday at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. TROY R. BENNETT / THE TIMES RECORD Henry told the audience that courage is the first thing that comes to mind when he thinks of King’s life and lessons.

“He taught us that we are stronger together than we are apart,” Henry said.

In his poem “Walking Shoes,” Henry took the audience through the steps of civil rights icons such as Susan B. Anthony, Jackie Robinson and Harriet Tubman.

Henry said he wanted to deliver the message that everyone has the capacity to be courageous.

“We all have courage,” Henry said. “Some choose to live through that and some are waiting to do that, but we’re given courage for a reason.”

For the children in attendance Monday, it was the courage to go off script and rise to their feet as Henry read his poem that invites listeners to “stand up in the shoes of Susan B. Anthony.”

Henry read Monday alongside his brother, Michael, and Bowdoin College graduate and author Charlotte Agell at the college’s Daggett Lounge for a crowd that organizer and Associate Librarian Judy Montgomery said was larger than past years, when the event was held in Hawthorne- Longfellow Library. Last year, about 120 attended, Montgomery said.

“Each year, (this event) gets bigger and bigger,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery said it is the only Maine celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day she knows of that is geared specifically toward children.

In addition to the reading, children made crafts, enjoyed snacks and selected books dealing with King and his legacy.

Attendees also gained a sneak peek at Henry’s latest book, “The Gift Box,” which is scheduled for publication in February.

“It’s my favorite day of the year,” Montgomery said, of the Martin Luther King Day.

Listen to Michael Henry of A Revolution Now lead the audience in a singing of "We Shall Overcome."

dfishell@timesrecord.com / @darrenfishell

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