Panels, Discussion, Singing and Speeches at Belmont’s MLK Breakfast

Photo: The poster for the event.

Belmont’s 23rd annual Martin Luther King Day Community Breakfast takes places on Monday, Jan. 16, from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. in the Belmont High School Cafeteria, 221 Concord Ave.

The guest speaker is Dorothy Stoneman, Belmont resident, Belmont High School graduate, civil rights activist and Founder of YouthBuild. In addition to speaking, Stoneman will moderate a panel of Belmont METCO graduates and friends. While METCO started in Belmont in 1970, it is the 50th anniversary of the METCO program.   

In addition to Stoneman and the panel, the program will include 

  • Belmont District Superintendent John Phelan, 
  • Belmont High Principal Daniel Richards,
  • Dr. Constance  Williams, associate professor emerita, the Heller School for Social Policy and Management,
  • Pastor Amos Jean Philippe, Belmont Community Church of God, 
  • Muneeb (Moe) Khan, The Islamic Center of Boston in Wayland,  
  • a trio comprised of BHS students Lara Zeng ’19 (violin), Alex Wilk ’19 (viola) and Annalise Schlaud ’19 (cello),
  • BHS student singers and METCO program participants Jaelyn Creech Moise ’18 and Janae Creech Moise ’19 (“Amazing Grace”).

The METCO Panel of METCO Graduates and Friends, will include three METCO graduates from Belmont’s first class of METCO students. These students spent 12 years in the Belmont Schools from 1st grade at the Butler Elementary to graduating from Belmont High School.  The panel will include:

  • Angela Simpson, BHS Class of 1982
  • Lee Williams, BHS Class of 1982, coming from Baltimore for the event
  • Anthony Lumley Sr.,  BHS Class of 1982, now a METCO parent, Wellesley Schools
  • Marrcus Henry, BHS Class of 2004
  • Melvin MacKenzie, BHS Class of 2004
  • Lorraine Kermond, BHS Class 1984, Belmont resident and Belmont Against Racism Board Member

As in the past, there will be a request for donations to support the Belmont Schools’ METCO Support Fund.  A member of the board of Belmont Against Racism and Belmont Schools’ METCO Director Ms. Diane Wiltshire will make the request.  As stated above, all checks should be payable to Belmont Against Racism re METCO Support Fund.

$5 per person/$10 per family (at the door) 

Pastries, fruit and beverages will be served.  Student musical entertainment will be provided.  Ample parking. Accessible to persons with disabilities.  Join with old friends and meet new friends.  Children of all ages are welcome and childcare and gym activities will be provided for children 2-12 during the program.

‘We Have Work To Do’: Challenges Continue As Belmont Honors MLK

Photo: State Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry.

While many national political figures have decided to ride the popular wave of refusing to assist the refugees from a chaotic world, State Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry will not stand silent. 

“When Dr. King said the measure of a man is not where he stands in a moment of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenges and controversy,” she told a full house during her keynote speech at the 22nd annual Martin Luther King Day Breakfast held on Monday, Jan. 18 in the Belmont High School cafeteria.  

We face these choices every day, said Forry.

“It is the choice of an elected official to remind us that this country welcomes all people, especially those who seek refuge in a time of war or terror because it is the right thing to do,” she said to the applause of those in attendance at the yearly event which serves as a fundraiser for the METCO Support Fund which provides services to those students who travel from Boston to attend Belmont schools.


Samari (left) and Merly Winklaar performing at the MLK Breakfast.

“We have work to do,” declared Forry, as she spoke of the lasting legacy of King and how his life continues to influence the pursuit of civil rights in today’s America. 

Forry told the crowd King knew that equality could not be won through violence but by boycotts, marches, and peaceful demonstrations.

“But today we see both,” she said, pointing to events in Baltimore and Fergeson, Missouri, where violent actions “have overshadowed, but no silence the peaceful calls for change from demonstrators from across our country.”

Follen spoke about her upbringing in a Haitian household and recognize the struggle of both an African-American and first-generation immigrant family, and how through hard work she would be speaking Monday as the state senator from the First Suffolk District.

“Only in this country could this happen,” she said. 

She spoke of falling in love and marrying an Irish Bostonian (Bill Forry, editor and publisher of the Dorchester Reporter, Boston Irish Reporter and Boston Haitian Reporter), of raising four children in a multicultural household in their Dorchester home.

Forry said it was ten years ago that she ran and won a state House seat from Boston, serving for eight-and-a-half years a district that encompassed urban neighborhoods and suburbs including Milton where she worked with Belmont’s current school district superintendent John Phelan.

During that time she sought to bring urban and suburban leaders to the table “although we think there is nothing in common, there is always common ground.”  

In 2013, she won the election to succeed Tom Finnerian whose state senate seat includes South Boston, the bastion of opposition to racial desegregation in the 1970s and 1980s.

One of her first challenges was that, as South Boston’s state senator, she would host the long-standing St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast, a political roast that was until 2014 the bastion of Irish-American men. Soon after winning the seat, Boston City Council President Bill Linehan and some press outlets said only a South Boston native should host the event.


“But the thing those guys didn’t know realize is that I’m the real ‘Black Irish,’” Forry said. And while the incident was hurtful, she had her champions including the former state senators William “Billy” Bulger and current US Rep. Stephen Lynch, who spoke up and declared that “Of course she’s going to host it.” 

“I saw the best of my friends and supporters during that period. They did not stand silent. They stood with me and … that they would be there for me,” she recalled.  

Forry said moments like that when she feels like lashing out, “I remember Dr. King’s words. ‘Love is the only force capable of turning an enemy into a friend’.”  

“We have an opportunity in these times of challenges and controversy to work to realize King’s dream. As a nation, we have already come far, but there is so much more we can do,” she said, including advocating for diverse education, supporting growth in local businesses to lift families out of poverty along with creating jobs and combat income inequality.

“We have work to do,” she said. 



Protest Raises Awareness of METCO Cuts Impacting Belmont Schools

Photo: The protest outside Belmont High School on Wednesday, June 17.

For 12 years, since first coming to the Wellington Elementary School as a first grader, Rashunda Webb has been a young woman on the move.

As a METCO student, she traveled from Dorchester to Belmont initially on a bus for her early years before switching to public transportation. While she attended Belmont High School, it took Webb a good 90 minutes on MBTA buses and subways to get to school and then back home.

Yet she said without benefits of graduating from one of the best open enrollment high schools in the country, “I don’t think I would have had the chance of attending the college I’ve been hoping to,”  said Webb, who is matriculating at New York University this fall as a nursing student.

And while she succeeded in using the opportunity METCO gave her, Webb wants to see others from her neighborhood take the same route she did.


Rashunda Webb of Dorchester and Belmont High School.

“There are many, many kids who want to come here,” Webb told the Belmontonian. 

But the program Webb took advantage of is battling to maintain it funding level to where it can remain a viable option for other students from Boston.

“The budget cuts are closing the doors to the same opportunity I was privileged enough to experience,” said Webb at an informational protest rally at the entry to Belmont High School at Underwood Street and Concord Avenue on Wednesday, June 17. 

“That is why we are here today, that METCO will no longer open those doors of opportunity if we don’t speak up,” said Webb.

Holding bed sheets with “Protect METCO” and “The fight for equality is your responsibility,” written on them, a small but dedicated group of recent graduates and current students – each taking time away from finals preparation – sought to raise the issue that they believe has not received the attention or coverage it deserves. 

While many cars and students gave curious looks at the group, other beeped their horns and gave a supportive wave. 

“We’re looking to gain support in Belmont with this protest,” said Joe Fitzgerald, a 2014 Belmont High grad who coordinated the protest. Currently, 119 students from Boston attend Belmont schools in the first through twelfth grades. 

METCO – which stands for Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunities – is a voluntary integration program founded in 1966, provides a suburban public school education for African-American, Hispanic, and Asian students from Boston.

The program is currently in a tug of war between Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget which attempts to close a $768 million deficit. His budget cuts the METCO line item by $1.2 million to $17.9 million in fiscal 2016 while over in the House of Representatives, they propose to restore METCO funding to $20.14 million, a million dollars greater than last fiscal year’s amount. 

If the cuts are approved and passed, Belmont could see a resulting reduction in METCO of $54,000, a sizable hit for the program, Fitzgerald said. It could result in a drop in the over number of students attending Belmont schools and could result in siblings of current METCO students not provided an easier avenue to follow their brothers or sisters to the same schools. 

“We want to gain the democratic voice we need to bring more people into the debate, so it’s not just a debate between two or three higher ups but of the community which wants this program continue at adequate levels,” said Fitzgerald. 

Belmont’s King Breakfast Focus on Cost of Non-Engagement on Race

Belmont’s 21th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Breakfast will take place on the King Holiday, Monday, Jan. 19, at Belmont High School, beginning at 8:45 a.m.

WGBH Senior Investigative Reporter Phillip Martin will present the keynote address, “What If We Do Nothing?:  Ferguson and the Cost of Non-Engagement.”

“The Human Rights Commission is very pleased to work with the Belmont Schools, Belmont Against Racism, the Belmont Religious Council, the Belmont METCO Program, Belmont High’s Belmontian Club and its many other partners in presenting the 21st annual MLK Community Breakfast,” said Barbara Watson, chair of the Belmont Human Rights Commission.

The annual breakfast draws anywhere from 250 to 400 attendees.

The breakfast serves as a critical fundraising event for the Belmont Schools’ METCO Support Fund, a fund established by Belmont Against Racism and managed by the Belmont School Department, providing financial support to many Belmont METCO related activities, including late-day transportation for high school students from Boston who participate in extracurricular activities at the High School.

The breakfast is a very special event in Belmont, said Watson.  It brings together people of all ages, Belmont residents, Boston residents who participate in, or are associated with, Belmont’s METCO program, town officials and administrators, town agencies, including the Police and Fire Departments, businesses, community leaders and volunteers and representatives of church groups, as well as others in surrounding communities, who are interested in gathering to celebrate and promote the values of Dr. King.

In addition to the Belmont Human Rights Commission and Belmont Against Racism, sponsors and conveners include, among others, the Belmont Religious Council, the Belmont School Department, Belmont High School, Belmont High School PTO, Belmont High School Belmontian service club, Belmont METCO program, Belmont Disability Commission, Vision 21, Chenery Middle School PTO, League of Women Voters, Belmont Gay Straight Alliance Committee and Belmont Special Education Advisory Commission.

The event receives support from many local businesses and individuals, including Quebrada Bakery.

Businesses and individuals who are not able to attend the Breakfast but would like to contribute to the Fund are asked to send their checks to:


PO Box 649

Belmont, MA 02478