Join Us for the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Observance & Fair

Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey Sheila Y. Oliver is the speaker at this year’s observance on Monday, January 21st, 2 pm, Columbia High School. This event includes music, readings, a dance performance, and is followed by the Volunteer Fair as well as community-wide Luminary lighting.

Community Coalition on Race Presents 

2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Observance & Volunteer Fair      

Non-Violence in a Violent World

South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race presents the 18th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Observance Monday, January 21, 2019 at 2:00 pm, at Columbia High School, 17 Parker Ave, Maplewood. The event is free and open to all. Hundreds of SOMA residents and friends from neighboring communities gather to honor Dr. King through music, a sharing of interfaith readings and an affirmation of Dr. King’s call to action and service. Following the celebration, there will be a Reception and Volunteer Fair at 3:30 pm in the cafeteria. Donations of food pantry items, knitting yarn, old eyeglasses, children’s books (K-5th grade) and travel-sized toiletry donations are requested. Organizations interested in participating in the Fair should contact the Coalition office at 973-761-6116, X4  or email [email protected]

Robert A. Marchman, Community Coalition on Race Chair, shares, “This year as many celebrate the remarkable life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his clarion call for courageous action to confront and root out racism in its many forms remains critically important given the current troubling state of affairs in our nation. The strife and turmoil around us evidences that much work remains to be done. Our Observance program serves as a reminder of the importance of such work.”

Patricia Canning, Luminary Project Co-Leader, shares, “Our future belongs to young people and when their voices are being lifted, our role is to remind them that a truly just and equal democracy can emerge without violence. As we celebrate Dr. King's birthday and observe his legacy, we have to acknowledge his success with the use of non-violent measures to secure democracy for all.”

The keynote speaker at this year’s observance is the Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey, Sheila Y. Oliver, who is the first African-American woman in state history to serve in statewide elected office and just the second in the nation’s history to lead a state legislative house. In 2003, she was initially elected to the General Assembly and then in 2010 she became Speaker. Lt. Governor Oliver is a 40-year resident of East Orange and a native of Newark.

After the observance and fair, attendees and the entire community are invited to join the SOMA Luminary Project lighting! This is a great way to get everyone engaged in Dr. King’s vision of the Beloved Community. On the evening of  January 21 beginning at 6 pm, we ask people to light up the outside of their home with Luminaries, white bags with votive candles inside that can be decorated with images of Dr. King’s message of peace. Over 1,000 homes participated last year and our goal is to light up 2,000 places in 2019! The Luminaries come four in a pack for a suggested donation of $10 and it is a fundraiser for the Coalition.  Kits can be purchased at The Able Baker, [words] Bookstore, Wine Barrel in Maplewood, Sparkhouse Toys, The Cassidy Bar + Kitchen and Zen Pets and through team captains in the community.

Also, on January 13, from 3-5 pm at the Baird Community Center in South Orange, there will be a luminary decorating party for kids where they will learn the significance of MLK Day and be asked to decorate their pre-purchased luminaries in a creative way. For more information on purchasing luminary kits or the kids’ event, please go to or call 973-761-6116.

Full Schedule in January:

Sunday, January 13

3:00 pm: Luminary decorating party for kids at the Baird in South Orange from 3-5 pm (bring your pre-purchased kit or purchase on site)

Monday, January 21

2:00 pm: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Observance at Columbia High School auditorium

3:30 pm: Annual Volunteer Fair and Reception in the Columbia High School cafeteria

5:30 pm: Lighting of the Luminaries at Columbia High School front lawn

6:00 pm: Light luminaries at home, take a photo and share on social media using the hashtags #LetThereBeLight, #SOMALuminaries

For ongoing updates please follow the following organizations on Instagram:








Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.