Today, is Martin Luther King Day an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.
The day is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King’s birthday, January 15. Martin Luther King Jr. (born Michael King Jr., 15 January 1929 – 4 April 1968) was an American Baptist minister and activist who was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs. In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People’s Campaign. He was assassinated on 4 April 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.
It is hard to find a tie from a small town like Saratoga to such a national leader in the civil rights movement. However, there is one. Schuylerville native, Joseph Canzeri, (16 May 1930 – 22 November 2004) organized King’s funeral.
Joseph Canzeri, was a colorful advance man for Governor Rockefeller in the 1960s and 1970s who later worked in the Reagan White House doing everything from arranging seating on Air Force One to directing traffic in white tie and tails according to the New York Sun. Canzeri was tasked with organizing the Funeral by Governor Nelson Rockerfeller. He arranged to have the mule-drawn cart carry the casket through the streets of Altanta, GA. Canzeri also organized the funerals of Rockefeller and Robert F. Kennedy.
Canzeri was a native of Schuylerville, N.Y., he studied hotel management at Paul Smith College before being hired in the 1950s by Nelson Rockefeller to manage the huge family estate at Pocantico Hills. One of his main duties was moving trees. As Rockefeller angled for public office, Canzeri became his advance man, flying ahead to make arrangements.
Saratoga has been defined by the people who by choice or by chance make up this community. There are many individuals like Joseph Canzeri that help define this country, our region, and this community. It is the determination of our forefathers, in surmounting overwhelming odds that help define the American spirit – the will and ability to shape a better future. It is the people it is that define this community by choice or by chance have changed this country and even the world. That is why studying the people of Saratoga is integral to a good understanding of the condition of being human.