Honoring MLK’s Legacy: Building Bridges in Brookhaven

“Sterling Sax” playing his heart out; an honor to MLK’s legacy.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the injustice and suffering in the world. We turn on the news, and our hearts break…we want to make the world better, yet we don’t know what we as individuals can do. 

Too often, we do end up doing nothing.

Building Bridges in Brookhaven is a “grassroots coalition of individuals and organizations seeking to cultivate friendships and alliances among the diverse communities of Brookhaven”, and this organization was formed out of a desire to DO SOMETHING about the hate and violence in our world.

From BBB’s Facebook Page:

“On June 17th, 2015, a young man, inspired by online white supremacist groups, opened fire on a bible study at the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Nine victims lost their lives to hate that night. 
Following the tragedy, relatives of the victims moved our grieving nation as they called out for healing and forgiveness for the killer. Rather than igniting a race war, the tragedy inspired communities across the country to come together in the spirit of unity. 
When it was revealed that members of the Bethel AME church here in Setauket lost relatives in the massacre, a community prayer vigil was held. As church and community members reflected on the violence and its aftermath, questions arose.
How can we change in response to these events?  
How can we help prevent future violence inspired by hate in our own community?
How can we celebrate the talent diversity of Brookhaven Town?

In February of 2016, a follow-up meeting was held at which time those gathered agreed to meet monthly to create a network to examine those questions and take action. Thus, Building Bridges in Brookhaven was formed. 
Since then, representatives from faith-based and community groups, as well as concerned individuals, have continued to meet at various locations throughout Brookhaven town. As we share our stories, our resources, and our visions, we are discovering countless opportunities to connect with and support one another.” 

One of the workshop rooms at the MLK event.

On February 10th, 2018 I had the honor of photographing BBB’s MLK Unity Festival at Longwood Junior High School in Middle Island NY. 

The event was an awesome display of community, generosity, compassion, and creativity. There were wonderful speakers who engaged attendees by sharing their experiences in relation to discrimination, equality, activism, and the need to stay engaged in our communities:

After the speakers concluded, attendees were able to connect in intimate workshops and sharing circles in the classrooms nearby. My favorite classroom workshop was Herstory, a therapeutic and creative memoir writing circle for women:

But this event was about more than just connection and community: it was about FUN. Free-to-attend, volunteer-powered, family-friend fun for any and all residents of Brookhaven town:

Every person I met the MLK Unity Festival and kind and welcoming; photographing an event like this is so rewarding for me…instead of looking at the problems of the world, and throwing my hands up in resignation, I am inspired to take action and give BACK.

Just like the wonderful organizers of BBB:

Way to go! Hardworking volunteers :)

If you haven’t done so already, head on over to the BBB Facebook Page to get involved in your local community. Cheers!



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