Maplewood and South Orange Remember Dr. King
A day of service and a special observance in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Editor's Note: The folllowing story was provided by the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race.
“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve” is a phrase from Dr. King that was repeated more than a few times at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Observance — sponsored by the South Orange Maplewood Community Coalition on Race — on Monday, Jan. 16 at Prospect Presbyterian Church in Maplewood.
Community service was certainly one of the themes of the day in Maplewood and South Orange. The observance attracted more than 500 residents as well as town and state leaders.
The guest speaker was Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, the new director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Harlem. Dr. Muhammad focused his remarks on the need for ongoing efforts in civil rights and race relations. He noted that Americans tend to measure “substance through symbolism.” We need, instead, to move beyond symbolism and make a just society a reality.
Before moving with his family to South Orange, Dr. Muhammad served on the faculty at Indiana University as a history professor.
The observance also included a dance performance by members of Columbia High School Special Dance Company, selected readings from faith communities, and music by the Voices in Harmony Choir.
The Coalition, through its Interfaith Outreach Committee and Neighborhoods and Civic Engagement, together with the Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills, offered the community a variety of service projects at the event and throughout the community that support families and institutions here and beyond our borders.
The Coalition’s goal is to make the holiday “a day on, not a day off” by getting community members to support volunteer efforts now and throughout the year.
There was a wealth of volunteers and donors for all of the projects offered. Food, coats, mittens, hats, and shoes, books, eyeglasses were collected to support a variety of local agencies; emergency food packages were assembled; children designed get-well cards for children in the hospital; and more. The South Orange Rotary ran a blood drive; the libraries sponsored teens reading to kids, a letter writing to soldiers on duty; and the Marshall PTA held a screening of “My Friend Martin.”
The Coalition thanks all the groups that brought service and learning opportunities to our residents—the dedication of our local volunteer organizations helps all of us to live the dream by serving.
The Coalition also thanks Prospect Church for its hospitality, all our readers who shared their faith traditions, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts who helped with just about everything, the Junior League, Jason Asbury and Holland Jancaitis for leading Voices in Harmony, and CHS Special Dance.
We would also like to thank Congressman Donald Payne,;Assemblywoman Mila Jasey; Assemblyman John McKeon; Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca, Deputy Mayor Kathy Leventhal and Town Committeeman Marlon K. Brownlee; South Orange Trustee Janine Bauer; and Board of Education President Beth Daugherty for attending.