FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 12, 2021
New Britain, Conn. – Mayor Erin E. Stewart and the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities announced today that the City of New Britain will hold its annual event honoring the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. virtually this year. The pre-recorded event will be aired on the City of New Britain Facebook page and on Nutmeg TV’s Public Access Channel (Xfinity Channels 5 & 1070; Frontier Channel 6060) at 11:00 a.m. on Monday January 18, 2020.
“Dr. King made an immeasurable contribution to the fight towards ensuring every person in this country, regardless of race, gender, or background, is guaranteed the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart. “Now more than ever, it is crucial to celebrate Dr. King’s leading principles of justice, equality, and truth. We plan to do just that in a way that is safe and allows everyone to participate.”
“Even though COVID-19 has limited public gatherings, we found it important that we continue the tradition of honoring Dr. King” said Jerrell Hargraves, Human Rights & Opportunities Officer for the City and planner of the annual event. “We had to find ways to get creative while making sure Dr. King’s message is delivered to the public, especially during these trying times.”
Jessica Angelo-Julien, Chair of the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities said "What would Dr. King think? What would he say about the current state of events? We will never know. I know what I am thinking. It does not matter what your political affiliation is, respect the process always."
The event will feature the “I Have a Dream” speech read by members of New Britain Youth Service’s Youth Leadership Group as well as remarks from Mayor Erin Stewart, Reverend Gervais Barger of Peace Missionary Ministries, and members of the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.
New Britain Fire Chief Raul Ortiz will be the keynote speaker. Chief Ortiz has held his position since April 2018, and is the first Latino Fire Chief in the Department’s 187 year history.
Ortiz joined the Hartford Fire Department in 1999, where he served as a firefighter, Ladder Driver, Fire Investigator, Training Lieutenant, Suppression Lieutenant, Fire Captain, Executive Officer, and upon his retirement, as a deputy Chief of the Hartford Fire Department.
Ortiz holds a degree in History with a concentration in Latin American History from Central Connecticut State University. He was actively involved on campus with LASO, Residential Services, various leadership organizations, and a brother of Lambda Theta Phi, Latin Fraternity. Chief Ortiz possesses a Master’s degree in Emergency Management with a focus in Fire Administration from the University of New Haven.
Ortiz was actively involved in his community throughout his career. He served as an Executive Board Member and President of the Latin American Firefighters Association, as well as a Board Member and Past President for the Connecticut Institute of Community Development. Ortiz also mentored numerous children during his time as a coach for Mayor Mike Peters Little League.
Human Rights & Opportunities Officer
City of New Britain