Born January 15th, today we reserve the 80th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and it is a celebration well deserved! Inspired by Gandhi's nonviolent activism, King had a dream that one day all men would be created equal.
If only he knew his "I have a dream" speech would become such a big part of today's world. Tomorrow, marks the date of yet another black history event - the inauguration of America's FIRST black president. If he only knew, that his dream would become a reality, to not only unite people of different race, gender, & creed, but to progress the life of African Americans & their rights to vote, attend any school, dine next to a white person; the right to drink from the same fountain, live in the same neighborhoods; the RIGHT to not live in fear of police brutality or another man's fist, spit, rocks, & threats, because of who God made you.
On March 29, 1968, Dr. King traveled to Memphis, Tennessee in support of the black sanitary public works employees. These African Americans were on strike due to low wages & unfair treatment from their employers (i.e: black street repairmen received pay for two hours when they were sent home because of bad weather, but white employees were paid for the full day.)
On April 3, King addressed a rally and delivered his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech at Mason Temple.
"Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."
Ironically this was Dr. King's last speech.
He was staying at Lorraine Motel room 306, when at 6:01 p.m. on April 4, 1968, the day after his delivered speech, he was shot while standing on the balcony of his 2nd floor motel room. The bullet entered through his right cheek smashing his jaw and then traveled down his spinal cord before lodging in his shoulder. After emergency surgery, King was pronounced dead at St. Joseph's Hospital at 7:05 p.m.
Exactly two months following his death, escaped convict James Earl Ray, was seized at London Heathrow Airport, while trying to escape with a falsified Canadian passport in the name of Ramon George Sneyd. He was immediately repatriated to Tennessee where he later confessed to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ray pleaded guilty to avoid a trial conviction and thus the possibility of receiving the death penalty, and was sentenced to a 99-year prison term.
Today is the day to celebrate black rights, and to look forward to the future under a new govern.
Here are some events taking place throughout New Jersey in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
CLINTON: 6th Annual MLK Day of Community Service Event, noon-2 p.m. today, Clinton Community Center, 63 Halstead St. Light refreshments will be served and it is free and open to the public. There will be volunteer opportunities for every age and ability. At the center, volunteers can color bags for meals on wheels, color pictures for Color-A-Smile, decorate placemats for a soup kitchen, assemble plastic ware sets for a soup kitchen, help with paperwork/mailings for the YMCA, Hunterdon Hispanos, Franklin Theater works and more. Also, volunteering at an off-site assignment is available. For more information, visit www.HunterdonDiversity.org or (908) 806-1050.
EAST ORANGE: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Worship Service, noon today, Elmwood United Presbyterian Church, 135 Elmwood Ave. (973) 678-0055.
FRANKLIN TWP.: Community Breakfast and Celebration, to commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 9 a.m. today, Doubletree Hotel, 200 Atrium Drive in Somerset. $30. (732) 469-2600.
LINDEN: There will be a commemorative celebration honoring the day with town Assemblymen and the Mayor, 10:45 a.m. today, Morning Star United Holy Church, 1009 Chandler Ave. Call (908) 474-8493.
MAPLEWOOD: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration, guest speaker, gospel choir, reception and volunteer fair, 3-4 p.m. today, St. Joseph Parish, 767 Prospect St. www.stjosephmaplewood.org or (973) 761-6116.
MONTCLAIR: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, at noon today, the Montclair African American Clergy Association will hold its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Day Celebration service with a youth choir and praise dancing at St. Paul Baptist Church, 119 Elm St. (973) 746-8338.
MORRIS TWP.: Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, workshop with books and information to learn about Martin Luther King Jr., and unity wreath crafts, noon-3 p.m. today, Morris Museum, 6 Normandy Heights Road. $5; $4 members. www.morrismuseum.org or (973) 971-3700.
MORRISTOWN: Breakfast, hosted by the township of Parsippany, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., 8 a.m. today. Hyatt Morristown, 3 Speedwell Ave. Registration required. $20. Call (973) 538-5491.
Interfaith breakfast, hosted by The Morris Area Clergy Council at Calvary Baptist Church, with music by members of the Morristown Presbyterian Church choir, 8 a.m. today, Morristown High School, 50 Early St. $20. Call (973) 267-0136.
Service, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., with choirs from around the community joining in song, noon today, Calvary Baptist Church, 10 Martin Luther King Ave. Call (973) 267-0136.
NEWARK: Special Youth Theatre Performance, celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, with teen performers from the All Stars Project of New Jersey, 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. today, The Spot Lounge, 45 Commerce St. Admission is free. www.allstars.org or (973) 622-5506, ext. 308.
Celebrating the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, screenings of a highly-acclaimed documentary film, two Gospel concert performances, an inspirational lecture and family activities fill the day-long celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today at the Newark Museum presented by Amtrak.
The first program of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration is the screening of "Eyes on the Prize," a segment of the highly-acclaimed civil rights movement documentary series "The Promised Land" at noon in the Museum's Billy Johnson Auditorium. The episode will be rerun at 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Gospel singing group "Sounds of Zion" will perform two shows in the auditorium at 1:30 and 4:15 p.m. The group won first place in the 2001 and 2002 national McDonald's Gospelfest.
An inspirational talk, "Words of Inspiration: Tree Shaking and Jelly Making: King in the Day of Obama," will be presented by Reverend Dr. M. William Howard Jr., Pastor of the Bethany Baptist Church, Newark, at 3:15 p.m.
All events for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day are free with suggested admission. The Newark Museum is located at 49 Washington St. (973) 596-6550.
Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, with special guest speaker Assemblyman Craig Stanley, 3-5 p.m. on Jan. 25 at Gods Deliverance Praise and Outreach Center, 650 S. 17th St. (973) 280-3117 or (973) 280-0882.
PARSIPPANY: Interactive Dance with Daria, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Children age 4 and older will learn about the evolution of African American music, 7-7:45 p.m. today, Parsippany-Troy Hills Main Public Library, 449 Halsey Road. Call (973) 887-5150.
Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday, the Lake Hiawatha and Mount Tabor Branch Libraries, respectively, will both be celebrating Dr. King's birthday today.
Lake Hiawatha will be hosting two programs through out the day. Everyone can stop in and share your dreams for the future with the library and other customers. Jot down your ideas on a flip chart that will be displayed for all to see. The children's department will be holding a drop in craft from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The theme will be diversity. Children will be able to take home a decorated craft and also create a rainbow to display on the Children's bulletin board in the hallway of the library. The Lake Hiawatha Branch Library is located at 68 Nokomis Avenue. (973) 335-0952.
Mount Tabor Branch Library will be hosting a children's drop in craft between the hours of 4-8 p.m. Children of all ages can stop in and color in a paper quilt piece to be put together to complete a sample Underground Railroad quilt display.The Mount Tabor Branch Library is located at 31 Trinity Park. (973) 627-9508.
PLAINFIELD: 33rd Annual Memorial Breakfast, hosted by the Frontiers International Plainfield Area Club, 8:30 a.m. today, Plainfield High School, 950 Park Ave. $16; $12 students and seniors. Call (908) 868-8704.
PRINCETON: Interfaith Service, sponsored by the Princeton Clergy Association to commemorate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be held at 7 p.m. today, at the Mount Pisgah AME Church, 170 Witherspoon Street where Rev. Harvey Sparkman, will be the preacher along with faith leaders and groups from Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish traditions will participate in the liturgy and music. For more information, visit www.peacecoalition.org or call (609) 924-1666.
RAHWAY: Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, as part of the Rahway citywide celebration, the public is invited to a special ceremony and march, 10 a.m. today, Second Baptist Church, 379 E. Milton Ave. Call (732) 340-9477.
ROCKAWAY TWP.: Martin Luther King Jr. Day Service, with continuous screenings of his films throughout the day, 1-5 p.m. today, Rockaway Township Library, 61 Mount Hope Road. (973) 627-2344.
SUMMIT: Day of Service, to help motivate all who live, work or worship in Summit to volunteer and work together so as to educate, inspire and improve the community and to better achieve city unity. Summit residents are welcome to join in several events around the city, which includes book drives, luncheons or blood pressure screenings at the hospital. Activities start at 8:30 a.m. today and last through 9:30 p.m., ending with a Dr. Martin Luther King Evening Service at Fountain Baptist Church at 116 Glenside Ave., starting at 7 p.m. For the complete schedule, visit www.shapingsummittogether.org.
WESTFIELD: Interfaith Commemorative Service, in honor of Dr. King Day, a special service will be held for the community, sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Westfield, 1 p.m. today, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 414 E. Broad St. Call (908) 232-8506.
WEST LONG BRANCH: 20th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Breakfast, local residents and friends of the YMCA will join together in celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. hosted annually by The Community YMCA and the YMCA of Western Monmouth County, from 8-10 a.m. today, at Branches, 123 Monmouth Road. The event is open to all in the community. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for youth (12 and under). For more information or to purchase tickets, call (732) 462-0464, ext. 132.WEST WINDSOR: Second Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration, forum featuring keynote speaker Reverend Cornell Edmonds, Esq., Stated Clerk for the Presbytery of New York City, followed by a reception and multi-media display on the life and legacy of Dr. King, 2 p.m. today, Mercer County Library, West Windsor Branch, 333 N. Post Road in Princeton Junction. (609) 799-0462.