By Daniel Winner | AC JosepH Media Correspondent
Millville — The City of Millville made history as the entire length of City Park Drive was officially declared “Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive” on Monday, Jan. 15, in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Positive Vibes Community Group joined in the formal installation with a “Best Poster Contest” for children, offering a chance to win $50. The initial plan included a meetup at 10 a.m. on 600 W Main St. for a short Peace Walk to City Park, but the weather got the best of participants, as temperatures plummeted into the low 30s.
Weather did not stop the Renaming Ceremony however, which began promptly at 11 a.m. with a prayer led by Millville Police Department Chaplain Jack Fosbenner.
Among those present were Positive Vibes Community Group President JT Burks, Commissioner Joseph Sooy, Cumberland County Sheriff Michael Donato and State Senator Michael Testa, as well as Dr. Elizabeth McIntyre Arthur, the first Black woman to hold the office of president at Vineland City Council.
Sooy quoted from Dr. King’s book Strength to Love, first published in 1963, which reads, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience and comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Sooy added his own commentary, “We are standing today in moments of challenge and controversy throughout our whole nation. But today we are standing together, and we are standing together not only to rename a street, but to honor a very wise man, Dr. Martin Luther King.”
Senator Testa also quoted Dr. King, saying, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” He said in his own words, “That’s exactly what an event like this symbolizes. I want you to understand the impact an event like this can have for so many years to come.”
Testa continued, “I want everyone to know that even though it’s very cold out here, I’m excited to be here, because this is important for our communities to understand that everyone is in fact seen, recognized, and heard. We honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King for his unwavering dedication and commitment that all people can reside with each other peacefully.
“Renaming City Drive as ‘Martin Luther King Drive’ in the City of Millville is not only to be celebrated, but should also be a daily tribute to this outstanding man who did not view his dream as failing. Today we gather to reflect and pay homage to the enduring legacy of a man who dedicated his life to the pursuit of equality and justice. Dr. King’s tireless efforts advocating for civil rights have left an indelible mark on our society.”
JT Burks was also honored with an award for his dedication to helping youth and putting his time into Positive Vibes for the betterment of the community. At 11:25 a.m., the new sign was unveiled to onlookers which officially reads, “Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive,” eliciting cheers and applause. The festivities closed with a Gospel music concert at the Waltman Park basketball courts.
Chaplain Fosbenner said during the ceremony, “We can only wonder what America would be like today if his life had not been cut short.” Dr. King passed away after he was assassinated in 1968, sending shockwaves through the civil rights movement and the nation. He would have been 95 years old.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Daniel Winner has a double major in Religious Studies and Japanese from Penn State University and has traveled internationally to the Far East on several occasions. His insights on Buddhism and Asian culture give a unique view of historical and modern trends. He will be serving as a contributor for Front Runner New Jersey.
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