The Town of Ridgefield will present the 23rd annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration, honoring the legacy of the great civil rights leader with an awards ceremony, speakers and performances at 3 p.m. at the Ridgefield Playhouse Monday, Jan. 21.

The MLK Profile in Courage Award — a new award — will be presented for the very first time at the ceremony to Ridgefield High School student Lane Murdock, who helped launch a national movement.

This past year, following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14, Murdock, started a petition to the U.S. Senate and launched a nationwide school walkout. The date she chose for the march was Friday, April 20 — the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.

For Murdock it was important that students have a voice and not feel helpless in the wake of such a horrible catastrophe…..again.  

"If you can't vote, you don't have a lot of concrete power," Murdock said in an interview with CNN.

"As a student, what do you have? What you have is your attendance in school, and there's power to that. Hey, if we can disrupt the national schedule of kids going to school and draw attention to this issue," she said, "then that's a step closer to change."  

More than 150 member chapters of National School Walkout were formed around the country and her Twitter @schoolwalkoutUS gained more than 130,000 followers.  

The Twitter account now encourages people to vote and to have their voices be heard about important issues, including Gun Violence. Because of Murdock’s actions, Gizmodo actually declared Ridgefield High School "ground zero for a national youth movement combating school gun violence."

Murdock said that she hopes to one day be a journalist.

In addition to honoring Murdock, the event will include performances by ACT of CT’s Junior Choir, Ridgefield A Better Chance, The Ridgefield Chorale, Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray and Kimberly Wilson.  

The event, which was started 23 years ago by Ridgefield resident Mark Robinson and First Selectman Rudy Marconi has grown tremendously over the years.  

“We went from doing this in the basement of Town Hall and having a handful of people show up to being able to do this at The Ridgefield Playhouse and have approximately 250 people show up last year,” said Mr. Robinson, “What an amazing feat!”

For more information about the Martin Luther King, Jr. event, call the box office at 203-438-5795, or visit ridgefieldplayhouse.org.  The Ridgefield Playhouse is a non-profit performing arts center located at 80 East Ridge, parallel to Main Street, Ridgefield, CT.