Students honor King at annual event presented by MLK Committee

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VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF

Using song, dance and spoken word to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the MLK Committee recently held its 26th annual event.

The MLK Committee is a nonprofit organization that was founded by churches in Matawan, Aberdeen and Keyport, The group was formed in 1994 by Shirley Macon of the Second Baptist Church, Matawan, according to committee member Marilyn Townes.

More than 75 area residents attended the event on Jan. 19 at the Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School. To commemorate King’s life and legacy, students from the middle School and Matawan Regional High School recited poems and sang songs.

“We wanted to have a platform for the students to showcase their talents and abilities, hence the art and essay contests. Elford Rawls-Dill, our newest member, was very instrumental in getting the students involved,” Townes said.

“It is very important for the students in the community to know there are individuals in the community who can support them inside and outside of school,” she said.

Sponsors of  the event included the Community Bible Fellowship Church, Community Church of Christ, Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, New Light Baptist Community Church, Providence Baptist Church, Second Baptist Church and St. Mark’s A.M.E. Zion Methodist Church.

High school student Anthony Fosu served as the host for the event. An invocation was offered by Alayanna Dennis and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Jeremiah Dennis.

Middle school students Jacob Morrison, Chase Rogers, Nicole Onuoha, Devin Davis, Charli Rogers and Daniel Yamin each recited a poem/speech or sang a song.

Jacob recited King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Chase sang Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” Nicole recited Maya Angelou’s poem “Caged Bird.” Devin sang “Amazing Grace” and played the piano. Charli recited Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise.” Daniel sang “I Have A Dream” from the 2008 film “Mamma Mia.”

A free-will offering was collected at the event.

“Donations and offerings are used to begin to plan for next year, [such as] prizes in the form of gift cards to the student winners of the contest, supplies and expenses of the program,” Townes said.

Members of the T.K.O. Dance Company performed a choreographed dance performance.

High school students Anthony Fosu, James Williamson and Anthony Peters recited King’s speeches. Anthony recited “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” James recited “A Time to Break the Silence” and Anthony recited “Our God is Marching On.”

African-American Student Union adviser Latieffa Mackey recited Angelou’s poem “Abundant Hope.” For the poet’s corner portion of the event, poet Simone Nikkole read her work, “Lament.”

“Overall thoughts of this year’s event in one word, awesome. The students and parents who were in attendance were excited about the program and the encouragement it gave their children to be a part of the program and to be rewarded for their efforts,” Townes said. “The committee was particularity overjoyed at the attendance and the talents of the student participants. We can’t wait for next year.”

Townes announced the winners of the essay contest and the art contest. Each winner received a gift card.

For the essay contest, Keyport Central School sixth-grader Jasmier Gary received third place, Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School pupil Kathryn Brown received second place and Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School pupil Giuliana Magliocco was the winner.

For the art contest, Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School pupil Eva Pons received third place, Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School pupil Olivia Pons received second place and Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School pupil Chloe Bueno was the winner.