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MCCC Kicks Off African American History Month with Celebration at JKC Campus


West Windsor, N.J. - Mercer County Community College (MCCC) kicked off its celebration of African American History Month with a spirited opening ceremony held in Kerney Hall at the James Kerney Campus in Trenton on Wednesday, Feb. 1. Dr. Raymond Broach, the interim superintendent of Trenton Public Schools and former long-time superintendent of the Ewing School District, was the guest speaker.

According to Lucia Brown-Joseph, coordinator of Mercer's African American History Month programming and the college's bursar, this year's theme, "Lifting as We Climb," emphasizes the important role that successful African Americans can play in helping others to achieve their goals. "My charge is as you succeed, reach back and bring someone along with you," Brown-Joseph said.

An African dance and drum troupe from The Garvey School of Trenton performed first, led by the school's principal, Baye Kemit, and his wife, Makeda Kemit.
Following the performance, MCCC President Patricia Donohue observed,"This is a time to celebrate the wonderful heritage, traditions and cultures of all the African Americans who have come to our country."

Dr. Donohue next introduced guest speaker Raymond Broach, an MCCC alumnus whose career as an educator spans 40 years.

"Ray has been an educator all his life," Donohue said. "He gave up his retirement to come back and work with the children of Trenton, making sure we have the quality education our students deserve."

A native of Trenton, Broach shared some of his powerful personal history. After his grandfather was murdered by the Klu Klux Klan when his own father was just eight, the Broach family moved north in pursuit of a better life. With 16 sisters and four brothers, Broach noted that while his parents did not have a lot to spare, they always emphasized the importance of education.

"My father taught us that no matter what your background or the color of your skin, we have the right to an education. Don't let this jacket and tie fool you; it comes out of a lot of hard work," he said.

Broach proudly recalled that he started his college education at Mercer. "I am so glad my parents helped me begin my journey here," he said.

He encouraged the adults in the audience to become the mentors their children need to become successful. "It does us no good to just dream dreams," he said. "It's only an opportunity if we make the effort to seize it for ourselves."

The Trenton superintendent also called upon educators to put in the extra effort to help students. "Teaching and inspiration doesn't begin and end with a clock," he said.

Broach's talk was followed by a luncheon of Southern style food prepared by students from Mercer's Career Training Institute.

For information about other MCCC events this month that will celebrate African American history, see the calendar here.

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MCCC alum Raymond Broach, the interim superintendent of the Trenton Public Schools, delivered an inspirational message about succeeding in the face of obstacles.
A dance and drum troupe from The Garvey School presented lively entertainment.
The Garvey School group taught audience members words of welcome in Swahili.
Two of the Garvey group's youngest drummers.
Pictured following the program are, from left, JKC Provost Monica Weaver, special guest Dr. Raymond Broach, MCCC Bursar Lucia Brown-Joseph, coordinator for Black History Month events, and MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue.
Audience members enjoyed lunch featuring traditional Southern cuisine prepared by students in the Career Training Institute.