HACKENSACK, NJ -- Mayor John Labrosse and Deputy Mayor David Sims spoke at the Commemorative Street Sign Unveiling Ceremony for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University Tuesday night, marking the 55th anniversary of Dr. King's historic March on Washington and "I Have a Dream" speech.
“It seems like a long time ago,” Mayor Labrosse said of the 1963 event. “But when you consider our country is only about 250 years old, it really isn’t. The ‘I Have a Dream’ speech is credited with helping to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If Dr King were looking down on us right now, and I believe he is looking down on us, he be pleased that his speech helped put our country in the right direction and it is truly an honor to be here.”
Mayor Labrosse read a proclamation on behalf of the city recognizing Dr. King’s contributions to our country, which called him “an advocate for Civil and Economic rights of African Americans”, celebrated his leading more than 200,000 demonstrators in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and credited the March with leading President John F. Kennedy to initiate a strong federal Civil Rights Bill in Congress.
Deputy Mayor Sims led the crowd in a countdown before unveiling the commemorative sign naming University Plaza Drive as “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.
The event, presented by the Bergen County Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument Committee, included songs, poetry reading and remarks from Bergen County Executive James Tedescco, African American Advisory Committee's Arnold Brown and Theodora Lacey, and FDU Campus Executive S. Craig Mourton, among many others. Bergen County Freeholders Tracy Zur and David Ganz were also in attendance.
Arnold Brown, chair of the African American Advisory described attending the March in the summer of 1963 (joking it was “only” 86 degrees that day) and being able to stand within 15 feet of Dr. King as he delivered that momentous speech.
“You don’t understand the impact it will have with you until you come home and you think about it and it resonates with you,” Brown said. “Then you began to understand the impact it has on your life.”
When asked what message Dr. King would have for Americans in 2018, Brown said he would stress the same principles he championed in the 1960s.
“I believe he would say to pay more attention to his Dream like he told us to,” Brown said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re from the North, the South, the East or the West. Everyone should listen.”