Honore Murenzi, founder and director of New American Africans, will receive the 2014 Martin Luther King Award on January 20 at the 32nd annual Martin Luther King Day Community Celebration in Manchester.
The Martin Luther King Day Community Celebration will take place at the Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral Community Center, 650 Hanover Street in Manchester, on Monday, January 20, 2014. The event begins with a potluck meal and social hour starting at 2 pm, with the program running from 3 to 5 pm.
Murenzi came to New Hampshire as an immigrant from Africa in 2001, speaking little English. While working as a French teacher, he became aware of the many problems faced by the growing population of immigrants and refugees, especially those who had fled from extreme violence in Africa. Murenzi began to devote more and more of his time to providing emergency support, food, interpretation, help navigating the complicated system of public and charitable assistance, and in 2004, he founded New American Africans.
The Martin Luther King Award is given each year to a New Hampshire resident whose work carries on the spirit of Dr. King, according to the Martin Luther King Coalition, the group that sponsors the annual celebration.
The Martin Luther King Day Community Celebration will also include awards for the winners of the Martin Luther King Arts and Writing Contest. In addition, the Coalition will present a Lifetime Achievement Award to Bill Davis, Sr., an Auburn resident long active in local projects promoting civil rights and respect for cultural diversity.
Shujaa Graham of Witness to Innocence will be the guest speaker.
Honore Murenzi founded New American Africans with the vision that Africans in New Hampshire have much to offer each other in their efforts to find security and welcome, and also that newcomers and local people need each other as well. "Together we will be stronger" has been the group’s motto since its first days, and is the vision that continues to guide Murenzi's work.
Based in Concord, New American Africans now helps refugees and immigrants get access to serves such as education, housing, employment, and health care, for example by offering translation in Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, French, Swahili, and other African languages. The organization also has a youth program, which offers after-school tutoring and activities of middle school and high school students in Manchester and Concord.
Murenzi was among the first people to respond to Concord families whose homes were defiled by racist graffiti in 2011 and led the development of the “Love Your Neighbor” project.
“Murenzi deserves the Martin Luther King award because of his steadfast love and compassion for newcomers in New Hampshire, and for all who are poor and isolated,” said Sister May Cronin, a spokesperson for the Martin Luther King Coalition. “He works every day to create the beloved community in New Hampshire, calling all of us to acknowledge that we need each other and that our lives will be happier and more abundant when we take care of each other.”
Arnie Alpert, (603) 224-2407 or www.mlknh.org.