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1/18/2014 - Message from Mayor Kelly Yaede for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute

January 17, 2014

Subject:  Open Letter to Residents at Dr. King Tribute

Dear Neighbors,

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:

“Darkness cannot 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.


Kelly Yaede