Amherst’s MLK breakfast set for Saturday

  • Sonji Johnson-Anderson of Amherst raises her hands during a closing song on Jan. 13, 2018 at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast program at Amherst Regional Middle School. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/15/2019 12:53:12 PM

AMHERST — Reflecting on his own experience growing up in the projects in Boston and how it ties to the civil rights pioneer’s legacy, storyteller and singer Eshu Bumpus will be the keynote speaker and performer at the 35th Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast on Saturday.

The event begins at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and socializing, with the breakfast served at 9 a.m. in the cafeteria at Amherst Regional Middle School. 

Bumpus, of Holyoke, who tours the area regaling audiences with folk tales, fairy tales and songs, said he intends to keep the atmosphere light, singing both “Three Little Pigs” and an original composition dedicated to King. He will also speak about his own childhood, recounting the time he crossed four lanes of busy traffic to get to his church and watched, through a chainlink fence, a pickup game of basketball being played.

“The message of the stories is connected (to Martin Luther King),” Bumpus said.

MLK Breakfast Committee President Richmond Ampiah-Bonney said he expects Bumpus to bring words of wisdom and peace through the storytelling and music, and to involve the audience to sing along as part of the presentation.

Ampiah-Bonney said the breakfast will also honor the late Judy Brooks for her decades of community service and activism. Brooks, who taught at Pelham Elementary School for more than 30 years, helped lead the annual Black History Month celebration in Amherst and promoted voting rights. She died in July.

There will be no shortage of music during the event. In addition to Bumpus, music will be performed by the Amherst Regional High School Jazz ensemble, directed by Kara Nye, the Crocker Farm Elementary School Chorus directed by Eleanor Lincoln and the Amherst Area Gospel Choir directed by Jacqueline Wallace. 

Two high school seniors are earning MLK scholarships, Adwoa Tawiah Ampiah-Bonney from Belchertown High School and Karrington Dowe from Amherst Regional High School.

The Norma Jean Anderson Civil Rights and Academic Achievement Award will also be given out. The recipient’s identity is kept secret until it is presented.

Tickets for the event are available at A.J. Hastings at 45 South Pleasant St., Global Cuts at 460 West St., and the Jones Library at 43 Amity St. in Amherst as well as at the middle school’s reception desk on Saturday. They are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for children age 12 or younger,

Groups of people or organizations can also reserve tables. A table of 10 to 12 seats is $120. To reserve a table, contact Ophelia Sowers at or call 413-992-7625. 

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

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