ATLANTIC CITY — The Atlantic City branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday with a day of service.
The day began with an 11 a.m. commemorative walk from the school named after the slain civil and human rights leader down Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard to the Civil Rights Garden outside the old Carnegie Library. Then marchers and many others from the community assembled at St. James A.M.E. Church at noon for a church service. Later, the NAACP held its annual radiothon to raise funds for the organization.
The Atlantic City Branch President Kaleem Shabazz said the high ideals for which King strove must continue.
“Today is important because Dr. King’s message needs to be amplified and given to the next generation to carry on his legacy and help move the country to a better state,” said Shabazz.
Shabazz added that although the NAACP does not endorse candidates, the organization strongly encourages people to become involved and exercise their right to vote.
“In this time of cynicism, it is important that we tell people to carry on and keep moving forward.”
The program began with three prayers by Cantor Jacqueline Menaker, of Shirat Hayam Congregation, the Rev. James Wilson of St. Augustine Episcopal Church and Iman Amin Muhammad of Masjid Muhammad of Atlantic City. The three prayers represented the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths.
New Jersey Martin Luther King, Jr. Commissioner Stephenine Dixon spoke, and the keynote address was given by The Rev. Dr. Stafford Miller. The service was broadcast live on WEHA gospel radio station 88.7 and 1003.
“We go where the need is. That’s what Dr. King did,” said Dixon. “You don’t have to be elected to be effective.”
Many who attended spoke of the importance of preserving King’s legacy.
Joyce Mollineaux, who is a member of the New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP, carried the organization logo during the march.
“The walk is to remember Dr. King’s legacy and the instructions he left us,” Mollineaux said. “The adults should know by now what that mission is, and we should be training the young people to carry on his legacy and giving them the tools to proceed after us.”
City Council President Aaron “Sporty” Randolph said the community must not forget. “He had a dream, and his dream should live on,” said Randolph. “There’s still a lot going on that could be rectified.”
Assemblyman Don Guardian said people must make a commitment to change. “Certainly, the issues that Dr. King addressed are as relevant today as when he was alive,” said Guardian.
He added that the community must demand people be treated with equality.
The Rev. James Coaxum III, pastor of St. James A.M.E., said he opens the church for the King observance every year for many reasons. Coaxum is a graduate of Morehouse College, which was King’s alma mater. “During my time at Morehouse, we spent time studying not just the dream but also the vision of Dr. King,” Coaxum said.
Coaxum said during the civil rights movement, the church was typically the meeting place. “There seems to be a renewed sense of commitment,” Coaxum said. “Today it’s important for the church to continue to serve as the hub.
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