WESTFIELD, NJ — The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Westfield is planning to hold its 30th Annual Interfaith Commemoration Service on Monday, Jan. 16 at the Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity, 315 First St. The event is open to the public.

The theme for this year’s MLK Day program is “Bridging the Divide,” inspired by social, civil and political events and occurrences that have recently inundated our daily lives, opening old wounds and causing new ones, according to the association’s president, Donnell Carr.

“In some ways we are a nation that is more divided now than ever before,” Carr said. “With all the police-citizen confrontations and killings, with all the political vitriol, with the coming out of the so-called ‘alt-right’ movement, with the controversies caused by the Black Lives Matter movement, we have been disappointed but not discouraged; and, in fact, encouraged to stay on course.”

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The commemoration program will involve participants from local churches, mosques and synagogues as well as other civic organizations. The keynote speaker will be Westfield resident Andrew H. Lee, associate curator at New York University Libraries and affiliated faculty, Dept. of History NYU.

Winners of the the Dr. King Association’s annual elementary and intermediate schools essay contest will be recognized at the service, as well.

The commemoration service is set to begin at 1 p.m. after police-escorted march, also open to everyone, that will begin at the Dr. King monument on the traffic circle (south-side) at 12:30 p.m.

The Dr. MLK Association has been a part of the Westfield community for 30 years. The purpose of the association is to inspire and encourage our local communities to seek and adopt the high ideals espoused by Dr. King – especially those ideals that promote respect, fairness and justice for all men, according to Carr.

“In my opinion, Dr. MLK celebration day is an important reminder of the progress that has been made over the years in attaining civil rights for all Americans, especially black Americans and other minorities,” Carr said. “Yet this day also reminds us of how much more is left to be done. We are reminded of our continuing frustrations with the notion of progress — often seeing replays of what we hoped to be settled issues, e.g. voting rights and so forth. And we are challenged to continue moving forward.”