SOMERVILLE, NJ - Mayor Dennis Sullivan offers his thoughts on the life and times of civil rights activist Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and today's restive state of America:
"Today we pause in remembrance of the only private citizen in American history whose legacy merits a national holiday. In his short life, Dr. Martin Luther King challenged a nation and a world to confront issues of monumental importance. His words and deeds set in motion unstoppable forces that are still felt today.
"For a moment, let us become time travelers. Let us go back 20,962 days to August 28, 1963. We find ourselves in a crowd of about a quarter of a million people gathered in sight of the Lincoln Memorial to participate in the March on Washington. Few in the crowd could predict that history would be made that day, or that, despite dire warnings of violence and a huge presence of law enforcement, no incidents would occur.
"The passion of the participants and the feelings of commitment to a common cause would ultimately result in landmark legislation that would continue the path of social justice first started by President Lincoln himself a century earlier.
"Eleven days ago, our National Mall became the center of the media world as events of unimaginable horror unfolded in real time. The two miles that separate the Lincoln Memorial from the U.S. Capitol can be covered in about forty minutes, a walk I have made myself many times. As I was glued to my television set, I wondered what Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King would say as they watched from their vantage point beyond the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool.
"Lincoln would certainly recognize the Confederate flag billowing in the distance, and Dr. King would be all too familiar with the smell of tear gas and the sounds of confrontation that filled the air. I know that they would be saddened by the thought that their dreams for a better America are still not realized.
"The fate of America rests in our hearts and in our hands. If we are to survive the current health crisis, restore economic stability, and most importantly, foster social equality and opportunity for all, we must continue to work together. Let us today draw upon the lessons of the past and our own collective strength to forge a stronger nation worthy of our forefathers and safe for our children. Thank you."
Mayor Dennis Sullivan
Borough of Somerville
January 18, 2021