Binghamton Celebrates MLK Day

By Lorne Fultonberg

January 21, 2013 Updated Jan 22, 2013 at 8:37 AM EST

(WBNG Binghamton) People around Binghamton used their holiday to give back and educate the younger generations about the importance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

President Barack Obama called for the holiday to be a day of service, what he called a, "day on, not a day off," and some Binghamton-area residents did just that.

"I would much rather be here and help kids learn and understand than sitting at home," said Elena Woughter, a volunteer with the Vestal High School Peace Club. "I think even today even though the country has been through so much, we have a lot to learn about being equal and treating others with kindness, so there's still a lot to learn from this day."

The Peace Club ran activities at the Discovery Center in the Town of Binghamton, where organizers were bracing for between 400-500 kids.

Children could design their own Nobel Peace Prizes, write their dreams for the country or play games designed to teach the history of Martin Luther King Jr.

"The dream of the man, the presence of the man, the significance of the man needs to be something that goes on every year so that children at least have an inkling of who he was, what he did and why it is so important to know the kind of things he did and wanted not only for his culture but for the nation," said Pokey Crocker, executive director of the Discovery Center.

At City Hall, the NAACP dedicated its annual celebration to "saving our children."

"Our children are not finishing school, some of our kids are illiterate," said Patricia McHerrin, Second Vice President of the Broome/Tioga County NAACP. "We need mentors to help our children to stay out of trouble and help them get out of school."

Attendees sang, danced and read poetry in celebration. Speakers provided information on their respective organizations and advertised their services for children in need.

Mayor Matthew Ryan (D) was also in attendance and spoke to the greater importance of the holiday.

"We are called on this holiday not only to honor but to celebrate the values of equality, tolerance and interracial sisterhood and brotherhood that he so compellingly expressed," he said.