Deptford residents and township council gathered at the recreation center on Jan. 10 to remember the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“We do know that he led the civil rights movement for 13 years,” said Councilman Wayne Love. “But he also did a lot of things that happened in between. The Nobel Peace Prize, winning a lot of awards, the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, but also being able to go to college at 15 years old.”
The event featured two guest speakers who talked about King and how his philosophies can still be applied today, as well as what has changed and what hasn’t since he died in 1968. Speakers were Dr. Stephne Coney, founder and CEO of the National Stop the Violence Alliance Inc., and Robin A. Walton, vice president of governmental and external affairs at Inspira Health.
“This America has failed its promise to Dr. King,” Coney maintained. “It should not be ‘no hungry children,’ it should not be a fight for education, it should be peace on Earth, goodwill to man. We should be able to walk these streets hand in hand – all different colors and religions.
“We should support our law enforcement without brutality,” Coney added. “We should be able to protect our children from violence. Violence should not happen in schools, violence should not happen in the streets, violence should not happen, period.
“Too many people have died for the rights of all of these individuals.”
Both Coney and Walton were presented with certificates from council recognizing their work.
The ceremony also had two county commissioners in attendance, Frank DiMarco and Jim Jefferson. The latter provided opening and closing benedictions.
Students in grades preschool through 10th grade who made winning posters, artwork and essays about King received certificates and trophies.
“I, personally, am very proud of you,” said Walton. “Your work and action, through what you have written and what you have drawn, not only on paper, it speaks to our hearts. And that is why we are here today, and we thank you for that. I want to ask you to say something for me: ‘All things are possible, if I believe in myself.’”
“We want to thank the school board members, every school administration member and all of our educators,” Deptford Mayor Paul Medany noted, “because without them, we wouldn’t be able to put this night on.”