IRVINGTON, NJ — OThe 34th annual Legacy of a Dream Commemorative Tribute to the life and work of the Dr. Martin Luther King has been rescheduled for Saturday, Feb. 9, at 3 p.m. in the Irvington High School Auditorium, according to Omar Bilal Beasley, who serves on the Commemorative Committee.
“There’s a new date,” said Beasley on Friday, Jan. 25. “Doors open at 1.”
The annual event was originally scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 19, but organizers cancelled it because of predicted bad weather that never came to pass. On Friday, Jan. 18, Gov. Phil Murphy declared a pre-emptive state of emergency across New Jersey, in anticipation of the winter blizzard that was forecast to hit Irvington and the rest of the Garden State from Saturday, Jan. 19 to Sunday, Jan. 20.
The actual state of emergency did not go into effect until Saturday, Jan. 19, at 2 p.m., but that led the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee to postpone the event.
Prior to Murphy’s declaration, committee Chairwoman Baseemah Beasley and the other committee members had decided to go ahead with the event, despite the death of Lebby Jones on Wednesday, Jan. 9. Jones was an Essex County freeholder, former at large councilwoman, founder of the Irvington National Action Network chapter and a Team Irvington co-founder.
In fact, the committee had also planned to include a tribute to Jones as part of the MLK tribute.
“Things happen for a reason,” said Omar Bilal Beasley on Monday, Jan. 14. “Don’t let her work be in vain. My condolences to her family and I want to let them know that we’ll be here for them. There will be an acknowledgement at this year’s event.”
However, that changed on Friday, Jan. 18.
“Due to the governor declaring a state of emergency, the organizers though it would be best to postpone the event,” said Omar Bilal Beasley on Saturday, Jan. 19. “The Legacy of a Dream Tribute always involves students from the Irvington public schools, so we have to be mindful of their safety and their parents, whenever we schedule events.”
Irvington Superintendent Neely Hackett could not be reached for comment about the event by press time this week. But Omar Bilal Beasley said it’s still on and it will include a tribute to Jones and his father.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Omar Bilal Beasley on Friday, Feb. 25. “Lebby was one of the pioneers that started with my father, when they began to change the dynamics of Irvington. To have two pioneers pass away right behind one another, it’s hard to fill those shoes. But hopefully, this current generation of politicians that they cultivated will be up to that task.”