TapInto’s Madeline Thigpen reports

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Households across South Orange and Maplewood joined together to light luminaries in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The luminary project was a part of the Community Coalition on Race’s 20th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Observance Day program; this year’s theme was Community in Times of Challenge and Controversy. In past years the Community Coalition on Race (CCOR) held a program at Columbia before inviting attendees outside to participate in the luminary lighting together.

This year the CCOR observed MLK day with a virtual program broadcast on YouTube Live to reflect on the legacy of Dr. King and how the events of 2020 brought racial justice issues to the forefront in South Orange and Maplewood.

“We have seen the power of service and sacrifice in our community like never before,” said Maplewood Mayor Frank McGehee. Highlighting the work that was done throughout SOMA to help out families who were the hardest hit by the pandemic.

“It was and continues to be a racial reckoning that transcends law enforcement and calls us to act upon injustice and discrimination in housing, job opportunities, access to education and even health care as we’ve seen communities of color disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 virus,” said South Orange Village President Sheena Collum.