Open Letter to Residents at Dr. King Tribute
Each January, our community takes an important moment to
remember the life and lasting legacy of a pioneer of the civil rights movement,
the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As an individual who sought equality and fairness for our
entire society through non-violence and inclusion, Dr. King was an example to
us all on how to combat injustice in our world when he stated the following:
drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only
love can do that.”
Today, in Hamilton Township, in the State of New Jersey
and in the United States of America, while our society may not be perfect, we
have made important and significant strides toward a more just and fair society
that Dr. King imagined when he dreamed of a day in which his own children would
“…not be judged by the color of their
skin, but by the content of their character.”
When taking just a short moment to reflect upon the
events of the past year in our own community, it struck me how, even today –
some four and a half decades following his assassination – Hamilton Township
continues to take important strides forward thanks to the inspiration and
courageous efforts of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Just in this past year, we enjoyed the incredible talents
and witnessed the remarkable achievements of one of our community’s young men
of African American heritage – Isaiah Alston. He reached the pinnacle of a national television
show talent competition, “The X Factor” and was a proud representative of
Hamilton Township. Isaiah is an
inspiration for all of our community’s young people – regardless of their race,
ethnicity or creed – that if they use their God-given talents to the very best
of their abilities, there are no bounds to what they can achieve.
And also this year, we saw our community elect the first
Hispanic Councilwoman in the history of our township with the election of my
colleague, Councilwoman Ileana Schirmer.
Many of you may be unaware, but Ileana was born in Cuba. Her family immigrated to our country when she
was only three years old and could not speak English; however, today she stands
as a distinguished representative of our community. Ileana’s story, similar to that of many
immigrants from various countries or cultures, shines as a bright example that
our country still remains a land of opportunity for all people.
And finally in this past year, during the most recent
election for the office of Mayor, our community had the opportunity to choose
between two female candidates to determine which would have the honor and the
privilege of serving our residents as the first elected female Mayor in the
history of Hamilton Township. I believe that
this election was an important symbol that the responsibility of the
stewardship of our community rests in all of our hands, regardless of gender,
race, or creed. Together, we are one
Hamilton Township; and together, we must work for our collective future and prosperity.
However, the important strides that we continue to take
are not exclusive to Hamilton Township and truly extend from sea to shining
sea. We are fortunate to live in country
where, within just the last few years, we have witnessed the first Hispanic
United States Supreme Court Justice in Sonia Sotomayor, the greatest number of female
representatives serving us at one time in the United States Congress and the
election of our nation’s first African American President in Barack Obama. Regardless of politics or political views, it
should stand as an important sign to all of us – that Dr. King’s dream continues
to be woven into the very fabric of our nation by a people whose growing
diversity adds to the richness of our American culture and the vibrancy of our
United States of America.
Finally, I would like to take a moment to publicly thank
the many individuals and organizations who helped to make our annual Dr. King
Tribute possible, including our ceremonies’ gracious host, Faith Baptist Church;
our event co-sponsors, the CYO Bromley Neighborhood Center, the John O. Wilson
Neighborhood Center; our Dr. King Spirit of Community Service Award Recipient, Interfaith
Caregivers of Greater Mercer County; keynote speaker Dr. Joseph E. Woods,
Senior Pastor of Saint Phillips Baptist Church in Hamilton; Isaiah Alston and
the Faith Baptist Church Choir.
Likewise, I want to thank all of our neighbors in attendance and others
who will join me this Monday in remembering and celebrating the lasting legacy
of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thank you and God Bless.