IRVINGTON, NJ — The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee held its 32nd annual Legacy of a Dream tribute to the life and work of the slain civil rights leader on Saturday, Jan. 14, in the Irvington High School Auditorium.
While King was assassinated in 1968, his spirit was alive and well in town in the persons of “The 4 Kings” — four Irvington High School students who were selected to portray different aspects of his life and personality by wearing corresponding clothing: Delon Prince portrayed Minister King, Khalyfe Joyner portrayed Dr. King, Givenchy Zamor portrayed the casual King and Jersey Chikezir Ibe portrayed the dapper King.
“There were four different versions because, in life, there is a transition and you do evolve, as King evolved, into what we know as a civil rights leader,” said April Adams, the high school’s English language arts supervisor at the event. “Often, we forget about the minister aspect of it; the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., although we say it all the time, we don’t actually see it all the time, so therefore the young men were dressed in that way to represent those four versions. The casual King is also something that we don’t get to see — Dr. King as a regular human being. We mostly see him in photographs and, even when he made his speeches, we see him most often in a suit and tie.”
According to Adams, the goal of the four Kings was to humanize him and make him more accessible to the youth of today by “giving them a chance to just step in his shoes for a minute and understand where we were going with the speech, so that they could also try to get into character with knowing some of his gestures and things of that nature.”
“I think it went pretty well; I think, during the time that we practiced, the young men were able to get into who King was a little bit,” Adams said. “They saw that he dressed casual as well, so it made him more relatable. I think sometimes, when you dress in that attire, you just never know what kind of seeds you plant in young students. How many students can say that they wore doctoral robes before?”
While there may not be too many current Irvington public school students who can boast of wearing doctoral robes, one Irvington alumna who can was the recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee’s annual award this year. At large Councilwoman October Hudley completed her postgraduate studies at New Jersey City University last year, earning her doctorate in education technology, which earned her a chance to wear the robes.
Hudley agreed with Adams that it was a special occasion for an Irvington public school student to don doctoral robes, even during a set performance such as the one at the Legacy of a Dream event. And Joyner, the Irvington High School student wearing those robes in the role of “Dr. King,” was once one of Hudley’s students at Grove Street School, where she currently works as a library media specialist.
“I just feel so elated and humbled that the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee actually chose me, selected me, to be the recipient of this year’s 2017 Martin Luther King Award,” Hudley said Saturday, Jan. 14. “I acknowledged D. Bilal Beasley because he was the founder, along with Freeholder Lebby Jones, of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee and his legacy was to keep Dr. King’s dream and legacy alive and I just feel that they were the ones who paved the way; they were the forefathers for me to be able to accomplish my dreams and my visions for the township.
“I was touched to actually see one of my students wearing the doctorate regalia, because my purpose in going to school to achieve my doctorate was to be a positive role model to my students, to let them know that, no matter what your dreams and goals are and your vision, as long as you work hard, study and you apply yourself, you can be able to accomplish your dreams and goals. And to also let them know that, no matter where you’re from — whether you’re from Irvington or whatever urban district or township — you will be able to conquer those goals. To actually see one of my former students wearing that regalia, it was like I planted the seed and I could actually see my seed start to blossom.”