METUCHEN – In celebration of the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Congressman John Lewis (D-Georgia), the community is reminded to recommit to walking through “unchartered waters” like King did so many years ago even if it means getting into Lewis’s simple philosophy of “good trouble.”
That is what King and Lewis did throughout their lifetimes as advocates for equal rights and social justice.
“What does ‘good trouble’ look like in 2022?” Bishop Nikolaos Brown asked as he preached. “It looks like marching through the red seas of injustice, looks like walking through the red seas of oppression, through the red seas of hatred, and through the red seas of the system.”
All that matters is if it is “good trouble” for equal access to education, voting, and nonjudgmental health care.
Brown, of Ignite Church in Edison, was part of the 22nd annual community celebration themed “Good Trouble” in honor of Lewis, who passed away in July 2020. The celebration was held on Jan. 16 at the New Hope Baptist Church in Metuchen ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The church, which did not hold a celebration last year due to COVID, livestreamed the service on YouTube and Facebook. The event was organized by Marilyn Matthews.
Mayor Jonathan Busch appeared in a video that was shown during the service.
“Metuchen likes to get into good trouble,” he said. “Good trouble is the way we push the issues of democracy … we need to make sure that to achieve justice we push the limits.”
Examples of good trouble include the number of rallies and protests held at The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park on Middlesex Avenue attracting hundreds and thousands of people to be part of movements on racial tension, Black Lives Matter, stopping Asian hate, immigration reform and gun control, Busch said.
“We’ve really tried to show that this community doesn’t really stay silent,” he said. “We push the limits when we need to … not just for us as adults, but as examples for our children. We’ve had tons of children at these events, some of them teenagers, but some of them younger and as they’ve grown older, we’ve seen that social justice has become a huge part of the work that they do, not just in this community, but when they leave this community, onto college, into their careers … I’m incredibly proud of that.”
Congressman Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey) stressed the legacies of King and Lewis need to continue on a daily basis.
A lot has been accomplished since King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington in 1963, but Pallone said he would be remiss not noting what is happening in Washington D.C.
Pallone said King and Lewis alike would urge constant vigilance regarding civil rights and equal rights due to pushbacks.
“One of the things Dr. King fought for was the Voting Rights Act [of 1965] which was very instrumental in making it possible that people could vote and would not be limited by [restrictions],” he said, noting currently 18 states have legislation making it much harder for people to vote.
The congressman said non-violent good trouble also needs to happen for economic and health disparities as well as the digital and environmental divides.
Many members of the Metuchen Edison Area Interfaith Clergy Association joined the service led by the Rev. Dr. Ronald L. Owens, senior pastor of New Hope Baptist Church.
The celebration service experienced some livestream issues, but also included musical selections and poems.