Irvington poet enthralls at tribute to King

Photo by Chris Sykes
From left, Melody Thomas-Scott, Irvington Board of Education Administrator Reginald Lamptey, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, Irvington Democratic Committee Chairwoman and widow of former Municipal Council President and Essex County Freeholder D. Bilal Beasley Baseemah Beasley, Mayor Tony Vauss, Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker, 2017 MLK Award recipient at large Councilwoman Dr. October Hudley, South Ward Councilwoman Sandy Jones, Superintendent of Irvington Public Schools Neely Hackett and Jamilah Beasley-McCleod, Baseemah and D. Bilal’s daughter, stand together on Saturday, Jan. 14, during the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee’s 32nd annual Legacy of a Dream event in the Irvington High School auditorium. D.Bilal Beasley co-founded the MLK Committee, along with his friend and current freeholder, Lebby Jones.

IRVINGTON, NJ — The Irvington Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee’s 32nd annual Legacy of a Dream Commemorative Tribute to the Life and Work of Martin Luther King Jr. in the Irvington High School auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 14, featured a reading by Irvington poet Craig Garner, in addition to performances by the Irvington High School hip-hop, jazz and ballet teams and a reading of King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech and recitations of famous King quotes by the “4 Kings.”

At large Councilwoman October Hudley was presented with the 2017 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award and the guest speaker was attorney Evans Anyanwu.

“I’m especially pleased to have this opportunity to read a poem on this prestigious occasion, as the tenure of our first great black president draws to an end. I therefore decided to write a poem about the values that make a man such as Dr. King or President Obama, because these are the things that give them the strength to face adversity,” said Garner on Saturday, Jan. 14.

“I’ve written about eight to 10 poems about Dr. King and we always talk about the things he has accomplished, which was significant. I mean, when you win the Nobel Peace Prize, that is no small accomplishment. When you win so many honors that you can’t even list them, when you’re invited to the White House, when presidents call you, this is no small accomplishment.”

Garner said King’s time and life experience made him the person that he was, as Obama’s life and experiences have made his who he is. He said both overcame adversity to become great men and their perseverance and triumphs in the face of the kind of opposition and adversity that anyone else would balk at was proof of their inherent and learned virtues.

“There are things that you have to go through in life to do the great things that they did, so we should always look to see the virtue of a great leader,” Garner said. “Virtue is defined as the quality of being morally good. At first, virtue meant manliness or valor but, over time, it settled into the sense of moral excellence. I can sum it up as just trying to be a good person — good people who try to do good.

“It is not what a man does that actually makes a man who he is, but it is what made him who he is before he was able to do what he does. You have to have courage like Dr. King and President Obama.”