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MCCC Celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

1/19/11

West Windsor, NJ: The rich legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was celebrated at Mercer County Community College’s James Kerney Campus in Trenton on King’s 82nd birthday, observed this year on Jan. 17.   “Learning is Serving & Serving is Learning” was the theme as members of the Trenton community, students, faculty and staff packed Kerney Hall.

 

As keynote speaker, Dr. Eric Watson, MCCC assistant professor of English and History, spoke of the power of righting the wrongs of racial injustice, and called all to give back to their community to empower future generations. He reflected on his visit 10 years ago to Little Rock, Arkansas, when he met Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine students who integrated Central High School, and one of her former harassers, Hazel Massery, right in Elizabeth’s kitchen.   “Now you know, I had some bad feelings about Hazel,” said Watson. “But when I saw the two chatting, I sensed the power of forgiveness and service. Today, they speak across the country on the need to build bridges of acceptance and understanding.” 

 

Adding the sounds of jazz were WWFM’s “Jazz Duchess” Doris Spears, a JazzOn2 program host, and the Tommy Gryce Trio.  The FunkTASKtiks (members of the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen), the OneWay Dance Team and local youth also performed and gave presentations. 

From left are MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue, Youth College Director Don Davis and James Kerney Campus Provost Monica Weaver.
Members of the Tommy Gryce trio.

Receiving recognition were Don Davis, long time director of MCCC’s Youth College; Tommy Gryce, a legendary jazz saxophonist and former Trenton music teacher; and former Trenton Police Chief Ernest Williams, son of Berline Williams who, with neighbor Gladys Hedgepeth, took legal action against Trenton’s Board of Education in 1944.  The case was the precursor to Brown v. Board of Education, which prohibited racial segregation of school systems throughout the nation.  The Delta Upsilon Chapter of Omega Psi Phi also honored seven exemplary fathers in the community.

 

MCCC Communication Professor Alvyn Haywood served as master of ceremonies, while MCCC English Professor Noreen Duncan and Sociology Professor Renee Walker presented historical perspectives on the African-American flag and the African-American anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” 

 

The event was presented by the college’s African American Student Organization and Youth College, with MCCC Bursar Lucia Brown-Joseph serving as advisor.

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