CORNING, N.Y. (WENY) -- For roughly three decades, 171 Cedar Arts Center in Corning has celebrated Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This year was no different, as kids and parents came together Monday afternoon for an MLK Day Program for Youth.  

“We have a continuation of education,” Arts Center Executive Director Beth Landin said, adding, “This is an opportunity for (the) Arts Center to participate in educating our community over a long period.”  

Through ‘Making Real the Dream’, the Arts Center offered a variety of workshops free to the public. The event aims to educate people about Reverend King, the civil rights movement, and the work he and other activists did to achieve equality for Black Americans.  

To help put the program together, 171 Cedar Arts teamed up with Corning Community College and the Corning Black Employee Network. 

“They did the art project, we did some drumming, the group earlier did some quotes by civil rights leaders who worked with MLK in the background that we don't typically hear about.” Babatunde Ayanfodun, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator at SUNY Corning Community College, said.  

Dr. Aloja Airewele has lived in Ithaca since 1999 and led drumming workshops on Monday at the Cedar Arts Center. Originally from Nigeria, he was inspired by the work of activists like Dr. King, Rosa Parks, and Dorothy Cotton.  

“They were committed to non-violence, no hatred. I thought at some point, I would catch them say something that would betray their philosophy; never,” Dr. Airewele said, adding, “They believed in this stuff; that shocked me.” 

Dr. Airewele met Cotton in 2009, and in 2015, crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, with her for the 50th anniversary of what was known as Bloody Sunday. As it stands the plan is for 171 Cedar Arts Center plans to bring the celebration back to the Arts Center in Corning again for years to come.