MELROSE — In celebration of the legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the City of Melrose will hold its Annual Martin Luther King Day Dinner and Program on Monday, Jan. 19 at The First Congregational Church in Melrose. The event is sponsored by the Mayor’s Office, the Melrose Human Rights Commission, the Melrose Clergy Association, the Melrose Alliance Against Violence, the Melrose Chamber of Commerce, the Melrose League of Women Voters and Hallmark Health.

“In light of the recent happenings in Ferguson and across the nation, the time is ripe for a candid community conversation about race relations,” said Shawn MacMaster, vice chairman of the Melrose Human Rights Commission. “Ferguson was a sobering experience for all of us and its aftermath has demonstrated that we have a long way to go in order to make Dr. King’s ‘dream’ a reality. What better time to recommit ourselves to the cause of civil rights than on the day when we honor the life and work of Dr. King.”

Dr. Peniel E. Joseph, a prominent historian, award-winning author and human rights activist, will serve as this year’s keynote speaker. One of the nation’s leading scholars on African American History, Dr. Joseph is a professor at Tufts University and the founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. He is the author of several books, including “Stokely Carmichael: A Life” and “Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour” for which he won the prestigious W.E.B. Du Bois Book Award. Frequently sought after by national news outlets to offer commentary on issues of race, democracy and civil rights, Dr. Joseph has appeared on PBS News Hour, NPR, CNN, C-SPAN and MSNBC. His essays have been published by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Book Forum, The Chronicle Review, The Journal of American History and The American Historical Review.

The event is free and open to the public, beginning at 5 p.m. with a potluck dinner. The family program, which starts at 6 p.m., includes a musical performance by the Martin Luther King Day Choir, a Choral Reading of the “I Have a Dream” speech and Dr. Joseph’s keynote address entitled, “From Selma to #BlackLivesMatter: Reimagining Martin Luther King in the Age of Obama and Ferguson.” Activities for young children will be offered during the keynote. For more information about the event or to learn more about the Melrose Human Rights Commission, visit https://www.cityofmelrose.org/boards-and-commissions/human-rights-commission/ or https://www.facebook.com/MelroseHRC.

Dr. Joseph will have a limited number of books on hand for purchase at the event and will be signing copies of his books.