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Schenectady County Human Rights Commission Announces 2024 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration

Schenectady County Human Rights Commission's 2024 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Celebration

The Schenectady County Human Rights Commission (SCHRC) will host its annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. observance as a virtual event featuring Dr. Janet Dewart Bell, a social justice activist, strategist, scholar, public speaker, author with a doctorate in leadership and change from Antioch University, and Emmy Award-winning journalist. This event will be accessible starting at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 14, 2024 at

The theme of the event is Crucial Conversations – Artistic Expressions with a Purpose, with keynote speaker Dr. Janet Dewart Bell. The program will also include a special performance in spoken word by Freedom McBride.

Voices Against Hate and Bias Project

SCHRC is launching their new Voices Against Hate and Bias Project as part of the celebration. Community members are encouraged to submit an essay of 200-250 words with an opinion, comment, or short story that illustrates how love can drive out hate at More public events are in the works for the upcoming year, with the first one expected to take place in March. Additional information will be posted on SCHRC’s website as it becomes available.

“In these critical times, reminiscent of the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the Schenectady County Human Rights Commission announces a campaign to end hate and bias in all its forms,” said Arthur Butler, Executive Director of the Schenectady County Human Rights Commission. “Our nation, built on the promise of equal opportunity for all, calls for unity across perspectives, walks of life, and faiths. Let us join together, guided by the enduring legacy of Dr. King, in the pursuit of a society where love prevails over hate, where hope, dreams, and commitment forge a path towards a just and caring community and world.”


  • Dr. Janet Dewart Bell, social justice activist, strategist, scholar, public speaker, author with a doctorate in leadership and change from Antioch University, and Emmy Award-winning journalist – keynote speaker
  • Freedom McBride – artist
  • Philip Fields – Schenectady County Legislator and Human Rights Commissioner

Dr. Janet Dewart Bell

Dr. Janet Dewart Bell is a social justice activist, strategist, scholar, public speaker, and author with a doctorate in leadership and change from Antioch University. She is Founder and President of LEAD InterGenerational Solutions, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing democracy and social justice by promoting democratic principles and leadership from an intergenerational lens. Dr. Bell is also the executive producer and host of the LEADing Justice podcast, which tackles the most challenging issues through provocative and informative discussions on elevating truth, democracy, and justice.

A veteran of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Bell has been a senior executive and key strategist at several national organizations and serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Baruch College and was a Visiting Research Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, where she co-taught a constitutional law course with her late husband, Professor Derrick Bell. She founded the Derrick Bell Lecture Series on Race in American Society at New York University School of Law, now in its 28th year, and the Derrick Bell Fund for Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Her book, Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement, is a groundbreaking collection of profiles of Black women leaders in the 20th century fight for civil rights.

Her forthcoming work, Blackbirds Singing, celebrates the tradition of Black women’s political speech and labor, enabling the voices and visions of Black women to speak across generations to build power for the world. Dr. Bell is an award-winning television and radio producer with an Emmy for outstanding individual achievement and a Peabody Award for programming on preserving the African and African-American culture and history of Sea Islands for National Public Radio. She is a 2023 awardee of the Black Voices for Black Justice Fund. Dr. Bell serves on the boards of Antioch University; the Authors Guild Foundation; and the Women’s Media Center, which she chairs. She is an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church USA.

Freedom McBride

Latasha “Freedom” McBride was born and raised in Syracuse, NY. She moved to Albany, NY to attend SUNY Albany in 1996 and graduated with a B.A. in English and a minor in Sociology in 2000. Mrs. McBride received her master’s in liberal arts in 2002. While living in Albany she found her true passion of the arts and love for creative writing. As her talents grew she realized her words and creative output could help heal, change and educate a wide audience of people. Her span of work has ranged from domestic violence, HIV/AIDS awareness, self love, suicide, and intriguing topics that always help to motivate and push the limits of theatre. While coming into her true talent, she gained respects of many community leaders, building on partnerships that made her become a known theatrical beacon to be recognized while performing in a variety of cities in New York.

Extended bios are available at

Schenectady County Human Rights Commission

The SCHRC was established in 1965 to foster mutual respect and enhance understanding among all racial, religious and ethnic groups in Schenectady County, and to assist individuals in securing their legal rights. Learn more about SCHRC at