SOUTH ORANGE/MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The South Orange Maplewood Community Coalition on Race will once again honor Dr. Martin Luther King with service, volunteerism and celebration of his life and legacy.

This year’s service will be co-hosted by St. Joseph’s Church at 767 Prospect St. in Maplewood and First Baptist Church of South Orange on Monday, Jan. 19 at 2 p.m. Joseph Ford, Selma Freedom Rider and current Maplewood resident, is the featured speaker. Ford was an active participant in the Civil Rights movement and has been engaged in a wide range of civil and human rights issues for most of his life. 

Music will be provided by the Greg Bufford jazz ensemble and the Voices in Harmony chorus, and nationally acclaimed performer and South Orange resident Kenny Vaughan will reenact one of King’s speeches. This year’s observance will include video of some the original signers of the South Orange-Maplewood Fair Housing Petition.

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"Instant impact" activities at the Volunteer Fair will immediately follow the observance at 3:30 p.m. Local organizations will also be on hand to talk about volunteering throughout the year. Food pantry donations (cans, boxes, no glass) used eyeglasses, yarn, and travel size toiletries for transient teens will be collected.

The Coalition on Race is also sponsoring for the second year “The Luminaria Project.” Beginning at 5 p.m., luminaria bags will be lit in the neighborhood. Luminaria kits will be on sale in various locations and at the Volunteer Fair.

Local volunteer, donation, and learning opportunities are available throughout the MLK weekend: On Jan. 17, 7:30 p.m., the community is invited to a film screening of Joachim Prinz: I Shall Not Be Silent at Congregation Beth El, South Orange. On Sunday, Jan. 18 from 1 to 5 p.m., the local Rotaries are sponsoring the Two Towns Community Blood Drive in the South Orange Library parking lot. On Monday beginning at 10 a.m., the South Orange Library is hosting a Local History Archive Project.