Somerset Board of Chosen Freeholder issued Proclamation in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King during the Breakfast Celebration. To read the Proclamation please click here
The following news was reported in FranklinReporter.com on January 19, 2016.
Record Crowd Honors Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast
More than 400 people gathered at the Doubletree Hotel on Atrium Drive Jan. 18 for the township’s annual celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Franklin Township Community Breakfast is also a fund raiser for a scholarship program targeting graduating Franklin High School seniors. To date, the event has raised more than $146,000, which has been awarded to 149 students. Alex Kharazi, one of the event’s organizers, said the approximately 420 attendees was the most in the event’s history. Although this is the 19th year the event was held, it is the first organized by the newly formed Franklin Township Dr. Martin Luther King Community Foundation. This year attendees saw two keynote speakers, the Rev. Gilbert Caldwell and his son, Dale. The elder Caldwell met King in 1958 and marched with him in the 1963 March on Washington and the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March, among others. Dale Caldwell is the Head of School and CEO of Village Charter School in Trenton and founder of the “Middle Class Movement.” The two took the podium together, presenting a question-and-answer format in which the younger Caldwell asked questions of his father. Rev. caldwell said that although there have been strides made in civil rights for people of color, “it’s clear that the job is not finished.” Watching the recent debates among presidential contenders, Caldwell said, “it’s clear that there are people who have not grasped ‘America’.” “We have to confess that, as a nation, we don’t walk our talk,” Caldwell said. Caldwell talked about his first meeting King in the late 1950s. “I felt that there was something unique about him,” Caldwell said, saying that King exhibited an “authentic humility.” When asked by his son why the country stills seems to be segregated, Rev. Caldwell said, “There seems to be a feeling that we have to be most at home with people who look like me, who worship like I do.” Looking out into the racially and ethnically mixed crowd, Caldwell said that he hopes people were recording the event on video. “Some people do not understand the magnificence of togetherness,” he said. “I’m so glad to see this here.” The elder Caldwell several times tried to steer the conversation to economics, which is his son’s bailiwick, but Dale Caldwell kept returning the focus to his father and the civil rights movement. “Our leaders need to realize that their job is to empower people, that’s what Dr. King did,” Dale Caldwell said. Gesturing to the crowd, he said, “The world looks like this.” Also on the program were two poetry readings by 10-year-old Taejah McKnight, a member of New Jersey Orators. McKnight, a student at Sampson G. Smith Intermediate School, read “Equality” and “Alone” by Maya Angelou. The Star Spangled Banner was sung by Angela Bodino, a professor at Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg. Rabbi Eli Garfinkel of Temple Beth El presented the offertory, during which he encouraged those in attendance to contribute to the scholarship fund. Source: Franklin Reporter Added by Editor on January 18, 2016.
The following article was posted by Suzanne Russell, @SRussellMyCJ9:31 p.m. EST January 18, 2016 on myCentraljersey.com Local reverend recalls meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP (Somerset) - Rev. Dr. Gilbert H. Caldwell and his wife Grace have been married for 58 years. As a young seminarian, he wanted to find a special place to spend their honeymoon. Caldwell said he drove eight hours from North Carolina to a Poconos, Pennsylvania resort where he had made reservations. "As I walked in I could feel a strangeness. The person behind the desk said 'You can't stay here. Our guests would not be happy with black folks staying here,'" he said. Caldwell said that experience was among those that set the tone for the song "We Shall Overcome," which became an anthem during the Civil Rights Movement. He added that civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Caldwell, a retired United Methodist Church minister, who met King in 1958 while a student at Boston University and later participated in the 1963 March on Washington, the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer, the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March and the March in Boston protesting public school segregation, along with his son, Dale G. Caldwell, head of school and chief executive officer of the Village Charter School in Trenton and a New Brunswick Board of Education member, were the keynote speakers Monday at the 19th annual Franklin Township Community Breakfast in celebration of the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the DoubleTree Hotel in the Somerset section here. The three-hour breakfast, hosted by the Franklin Township Dr. Martin Luther King Community Foundation, raises funds for college scholarships for Franklin Township students. Since 1998 more than $146,000 in scholarships has been awarded to 149 students, according to Franklin Township Police Sgt. Sean Hebbon, first vice president of the Franklin Township Dr. Martin Luther King Community Foundation Board of Trustees. The event attracted a large group of representatives from Franklin Township's diverse community, including members of the Muslim, Hindu and Baha'i communities, Praise Korean Presbyterian Church, First Baptist Lincoln Gardens and Parkside senior citizens. Rev. Caldwell said each member of the diverse group makes it great. He said there are still people in the nation who don't understand that the genius of the U.S. is its rich diversity. "Everyone that's here is different and we need to celebrate that," Dale Caldwell added. Azra Baig, a member of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey and a South Brunswick Board of Education member, said it's important to be involved in all aspects of the community.
"Today we're celebrating Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy and we are very active in giving back to the community and humanity. We're part of the fabric of this great nation and we want to continue the legacy of doing great things," she said. "We need to work together to build a society that's full of hope, love, and peace for everyone." Taejah McKnight, 10, a member of the Somerset chapter of the New Jersey Orators and a student at the Sampson G. Smith Intermediate School, read Maya Angelou's poems "Equality" and "Alone." McKnight said she felt "Equality" written in 1990, was still relevant today and she chose "Alone" because she feels people need each other to make progress and change. Chandrakant Desai also read poems about King and Gandhi and members of the Community Fellowship Mass Choir directed by Gabriel Cordeiro performed several songs. Rev. Caldwell said he met King while attending Boston University School of Theology in 1958. He said King was in town for an event and he called his hotel and asked the operator to put him through to King's room. "And low and behold they did and he picked up the phone," said Rev. Caldwell, who displayed some photos of King. "I felt there was something about him that was unique. He obviously had the ability to speak. As I sat next to him there was a kind of authentic humility, a desire to get to know me and the young students." Rev. Caldwell said that meeting led him to want to follow King to a prayer pilgrimage and later the March on Washington and also to Selma, Alabama. Dale Caldwell said King did things for measurable reasons. "So often we think this marching, protesting or making noise was what he was about, but he was very strategic," he said. Rev. Caldwell agreed. "I was in Selma, many of you know of Bloody Sunday. You know of all the things that happened in Selma on the bridge. Dr. King sent out a call for many of us to come to Selma and I was one of them. I went there on that day. We were expected to begin the march to Montgomery, but Dr. King had not tied down all the specific arrangements. So we marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and he knelt in prayer," he said. Rev. Caldwell said he feels the nation needs to be able to see people of all colors, races, religions and economic backgrounds. "Some people do not understand the magnificence of togetherness," he said. "I'm just so pleased to see that here." influence, Caldwell said. "Racism is based on influence and doing good is based on influence. And we need to be cognizant of that. "He said the civil rights movement was founded on the grassroots level and King was the coordinator," he added "The power is really in the people. I think sometimes our leaders have to look inside and realize their job is to empower people and that's what Dr. King did. "The message this morning is that the civil rights movement is our movement. And everyone when they leave here should have a responsibility to reach out and encourage somebody who you think doesn't believe they have what it takes," Caldwell concluded. Dale Caldwell said King wasn't a politician but he influenced people to do the right thing. "We do what we do, think the way we think and accomplish what we accomplish because of influence, Caldwell said. "Racism is based on influence and doing good is based on influence. And we need to be cognizant of that. "He said the civil rights movement was founded on the grassroots level and King was the coordinator," he added "The power is really in the people. I think sometimes our leaders have to look inside and realize their job is to empower people and that's what Dr. King did. "The message this morning is that the civil rights movement is our movement. And everyone when they leave here should have a responsibility to reach out and encourage somebody who you think doesn't believe they have what it takes," Caldwell concluded.