RANDOLPH, NJ- Considering all the negativity, division, and racial tension that has often been the tone around the country as of late, a group of Randolph families decided to gather together "In unity and love as a community” as a way of honoring Martin Luther King Day on Monday, Jan. 18.

“The intention behind the ceremony was to honor the work and legacy of a great man and create the spirit of community and togetherness,” said Hazel Ball, who hosted the event.

Close to 20 families gathered on the large front lawn of the house that Hazel, her husband William, and their four kids live in.  Socially distanced and wearing masks, they ran through a short, well-thought-out service that included prayers, a poem, a few songs, and a brief reading on the relationship between MLK and Mahatma Gandhi.

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The idea arose from the friendship between Ball’s daughter Jackie and a classmate of hers, Lilah Fisher.  The two are close friends, as are their mothers; So Rebecca Fisher reached out to Ball stating she wanted to do something with the kids to honor the day and the two discussed the idea of holding a gathering.

“I was drawn to do something on this day of meaning and reference to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. rather than just have it be a day off from school,” said Fisher.  “It truly felt like we hit on all the pillars that MLK stood for. It was powerful, emotional and very inspirational.”

The two reached out to a few friends and members of the Randolph PEACE group (Acronym for: Partnership Endeavor for All Citizens Equality taskforce). This group was formed by a mutual friend, Meredith Ross following the tragic events of last Spring 2020 that sparked racial tensions and calls for equality across the country.

“We asked our friends if they wanted to participate and everyone sent in their ideas,” said Ball.  “I know the Soni's from being in the Randolph PEACE group, they wanted to contribute too.  I plan on continuing this event every year.”

Ball’s daughters Mia and Gabrielle read a poem “Still I Rise”, while Fishers children participated in a song and a reading, and the Soni children, Devika, Vivek, and Sarika read passages on the MLK / Gahndi relationship. Other children participated in various ways as well.

“My girls were excited to see how a community can come together for a cause that is important to them,” said Ball.  “I hope this event taught them that we can't rest on the accomplishments of the past, but we must each do our part to fulfill the dream.”