Every year, on the third Monday of January, America celebrates the life of a monumental historical figure. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his life fighting for equality among segregated and violently mistreated African Americans across the nation; he preached peace and prosperity, and advocated nonviolent, civil disobedience to attain the rights and respect that all people deserve.
While many individuals fought justly for their unalienable rights, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the unified voice of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. Today, over 50 years later, we continue to praise his legacy and hope to one day fulfill his famous dream.
A Capital Affair
New Jersey holds a number of events and exhibits honoring the great Martin Luther King, Jr., including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative event held in the auditorium of Trenton’s New Jersey State Museum. (The event is put together by the New Jersey Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission.)
Hundreds of people showed up to the state’s capital on Sunday, January 17, to pay tribute to both Dr. King and, specifically, his and Rosa Parks’ contribution to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which took place in Alabama 60 years ago. The New Jersey Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission provided photographs, footage, and an explanation of the brilliant boycott, which became a crucial victory for African American people in the mid-1950s. This event in particular catapulted Dr. King into becoming the prominent progressive figure of the Civil Rights Movement.
Those who attended the commemorative event were able to hear the inspiring and intellectual words of Colonel Dale B. Rivers, Dr. Mohammad Ali Chaudry, Ph.D., and keynote speaker Rev. Dr. Darrell L. Armstrong of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton, who spoke vividly about racism and the importance of tolerance and forgiveness. “There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us,” Armstrong remarked.
Ending on a High Note
Trenton’s own Unity Choir, accompanied by a pianist, drummer, guitarist, bassist, and dozens of radiant voices, engulfed the auditorium with airy, uplifting music; their songs were emotional and soothing, spreading the message of peace, equality and appreciation with every note and lyric.
At the end of Sunday’s event, the winners of the 2016 Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Art Contest were announced. Every work of art present at the event was deep and impactful, exemplifying the creative talent of New Jersey’s youth.
The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative event is a beautiful and outstanding spectacle. It’s a place to celebrate the incredible life and accomplishments of a true American hero. “[Martin Luther King, Jr. Day] is not a day off; it is a day on,” co-chairman of the commission, George V. Guy, Jr., stated. It is a day to follow in Dr. King’s footsteps and treat others with respect and kindness, and love and compassion, regardless of race, gender, social class, or sexual orientation, because we are all children of the land. We are all equal.
Hero (Top) Feature Image and Additional Images: © Patrick Lombardi / Best of NJ