PISCATAWAY, NJ – As many gathered this weekend for civic and spiritual commemorations of the life and legacy of slain civil rights leader, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., so too did members of the community at the Piscataway Senior Center.
King, whose January 15th birthday is officially recognized on Monday the 21st, a national holiday and day of service, was a major activist in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s leading efforts to gain equal rights for black people and other minority groups in America.
Organized by the Piscataway Civil Rights Advisory Commission and the North Stelton A.M.E. Church Women’s Ministry, Saturday’s annual breakfast featured keynote speaker, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6) who spoke on King’s legacy and the current political climate.
“Dr. King felt strongly that change had to start on the government level,” said Pallone who began his 16th term in the U.S. House of Representatives this month and chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“Dr. King always felt that as much as we move forward and make progress on civil rights and human rights, at the same time there are those who want to bring us back, so we have to constantly be vigilant,” said Pallone as he gave updates on some of the political issues that have been in the news.
“Whenever I talk about these things that are happening in Washington, I don’t do it because I want us to be discouraged or think that we can’t change things, because I do believe we can,” he said, using the Dec. 21st passage of the criminal justice reform bill, the First Step Act as an example of how, even with bi-partisan efforts, things are being accomplished.
“If we stick together and have solidarity, we can achieve the goals and dreams of Dr. King,” said Pallone.
The ‘Living the Dream’ breakfast also featured a dance performance by the Shirley A. Saunders Youth Liturgical Dance Ministry, and prayers and remarks from various Piscataway based religious leaders and Mayor Brian Wahler about honoring Dr. King’s vision and legacy for all people.
And Suhavi Puar, a student at Schor Middle School and a member of the New Jersey Orators public speaking group recited Fredrick Douglass’ speech, ‘What the Black Man Wants’ which addressed the struggle for racial equality during the Reconstruction era in America.
“If you remain silent about something that bothers you it gets bigger and bigger,” said Mildred Scott, Middlesex County Sheriff, quoting an excerpt from Dr. King.
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