RED BANK: KING DAY, IN SONG AND STRIDE

A commemoration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Pilgrim Baptist Church featured musical performances and readings by students from local schools. Below, Red Bank Charter School students went on a silent march downtown in honor of King’s message of peace.  (Photos by Danielle Tepper. Click to enlarge)

By DANIELLE TEPPER

Monday was a day of celebrations as students from Red Bank area schools offered tributes to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 84th anniversary of his birth.

Pilgrim Baptist Church on Shrewsbury Avenue hosted a Community Commemorative Celebration with an open-ended an invitation extended to anyone wishing to join in the event.

Due to a large number of performances, “it was a little on the longer side” said Pastor Terrence Porter. “Because we wanted to make sure we included all the kids.” Those aforementioned kids were students from Red Bank Regional High School, Red Bank School District, and Red Bank Charter School, with additional performers from Brookdale Community College and Two River Theatre. After scripture readings, they performed songs, monologues, and read from Dr. King essay contest entries, the latter of which were written by middle-school-aged children and had the power to move the crowd to applause, standing ovations, and in some cases, tears.

The kids spoke of equality, peace, and acceptance, of having friends from other nationalities, and of bringing an end to bullying by following the footsteps of Dr. King.

Lola Todman, an eighth-grader at Red Bank Charter School and redbankgreen intern, spoke about how Dr. King gave her the freedom to be biracial and the inspiration to become a role model in her own right.

“I hope that one day I know what it’s like to be so motivated by a dream that I would risk my life to see it come true,” she read. “I realize what Dr. King has done for me. He may be the sole reason I am alive. Dr. King lost his life to make sure that my life was possible. So I will make sure I live my life by spreading his message.”

In the second hour, the Red Bank Middle School band performed and the recipient of the First Annual Living Legend Community Service Award was announced. The day’s guest speaker followed: NAACP State President Dr. James Harris.

The event packed a full house into the church, as everyone gathered to celebrate the town’s “cultural diversity,” according to Rev. Porter.

Later in the afternoon, a troop of students from the Red Bank Charter School stopped traffic as they marched silently through downtown Red Bank holding handmade signs sporting Dr. King’s messages of peace.

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