The Newark YMCA held its annual MLK day of service breakfast honoring the late Civil Rights leader.
Local and federal officials in attendance say Dr. King’s message continues to ring true to this day.
“We are one, and we have to fight this injustice and inequality so that everyone has an opportunity to succeed in life.”
Michael Bright president and CEO of the Newark YMCA, says Dr. King’s legacy needs to be kept alive now more than ever.
“I wasn’t even around when Dr. King lived and died, but because of the responsible adults at that time (who) knew how important it was to make sure that what he died for was continuously living, its now our chance to do that to make sure the people coming behind us know that, so the young people just have to believe in what Dr. King said, live it, and find the strength in unity that together the dream will come true.”
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka echoed the same sentiment during his opening remarks. Making direct reference to President Donald Trump’s recent remarks around immigration.
“Given the words that the president of the United States just uttered about people of color in this world, particularly people of African and Caribbean decent, it makes it important for us, particularly people that look like me, to be able to lean on what Martin Luther King stood for what he represented, what he believed, what he felt, what he was arrested for, and ultimately what he was killed for.”
Congressman Donald Payne Jr. says if Dr. King were alive today the civil rights pioneer would be less than happy with the seemingly never-ending narrative of hatred and racism that’s once again dominating American politics and culture.
“Everyone wants a quality of life that is good, everybody wants an equal opportunity and so that’s what I think gets lots on the country as whole and young people today, we have an obligation to make sure that they understand who and what he was and what he went through to get us to this point.”
Robert Gregory is interim superintendent of Newark’s Public Schools. Gregory says as a leader of New Jersey’s largest school district it is imperative for children to understand the weight of Dr. King’s message of equality and service to others.
“MLK kind of laid out the blueprint for how to architect and construct change and we need to follow that blueprint with fidelity. Martin Luther King is a prime example of someone who made some incredible sacrifices, who knew that his time on earth was short, who seized every moment he could to do the good work, of not only his father but a greater father that he had belief in, and who was someone who united tons of people to come together and created an energy that is still alive today.”
The annual federal holiday which celebrates the life and achievements of Dr. King was observed on the third Monday in January, this year that happens to fall on the actual day of his birth January 15th.