NEWARK, NJ — The Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee’s 33rd annual Legacy of a Dream Commemorative Tribute to the Life and Work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. took place in the Irvington High School Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 13. During his remarks at the event, Mayor Tony Vauss announced he would be joining forces with East Orange Mayor Ted Green, Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka at a rally at noon on Thursday Jan. 18, to denounce President Donald Trump’s recent alleged remarks about Haitians, Africans and other Third-World countries.
“I and the mayors of Orange, Newark and East Orange will be getting together on the steps of City Hall in downtown Newark to have a press conference about the disrespectful way that the president has talked about African nations and Haitian-Americans alike,” said Vauss at the event. “I think it’s very hypocritical to talk about immigrants when the United States of America is a nation of immigrants. Unless you’re Native-American, you came from someplace else.”
Green confirmed this on Monday, Jan. 15, at the East Orange “Together We Win” Interfaith Celebration Honoring the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. inside Council Chambers, which featured a dramatization of the King’s life by Michael Green. Frank Baraff, a spokesman for Baraka, also confirmed the four mayors were scheduled to speak at the rally, independently organized by Newark grassroots activists.
State Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, who represents the 28th District, did not say whether he planned to attend the Newark rally, but his remarks at the Legacy of a Dream event echoed Vauss’ sentiments regarding Trump’s remarks. District 28 includes Irvington and Newark.
On Friday, Jan. 12, Trump tweeted from his official Twitter account denying he had used any “derogatory” language in regard to Haiti or Haitians during a meeting in the White House with members of Congress.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, is intended to protect the children whose parents brought them into the United States illegally and who have spent their lives in this country. They are now threatened with deportation to their native countries as Trump has set Monday, March 5, as the ending date for DACA.
Former President Barack Obama issued an executive order supporting and extending DACA in 2012 and the East Orange City Council voted unanimously Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, to issue a proclamation condemning Trump for rescinding the program and leaving it to Congress to resolve. The status of hundreds of thousands of undocumented young immigrants is scheduled to expire in March.
Trump has denied making any racist or racially offensive remarks on Friday, Jan. 12, about DACA recipients, Haitians, El Salvadorans or any others impacted by his administration’s recent immigration policy shifts. The Temporary Protection Status of 200,000 El Salvadorans who have been living and working in the United States — after devastating earthquakes in their country — has also been rescinded.
Last year, Trump’s administration decided to revoke the TPS protections for 58,000 Haitians living and working in the United States after the 2010 earthquake that devastated their country.
“Never said anything derogatory about Haitians, other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country,” said Trump in a tweet Friday, Jan. 12. “Never said ‘take them out.’ Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings — unfortunately, no trust!”
Caputo said he doesn’t believe Trump.
“Some of the lessons that we’ve been learning in the last most recent days indicate some very significant lessons in life. One is that you don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to be wealthy, you don’t have to be educated to be worthy,” said Caputo on Saturday, Jan. 13. “The fact is that we have to understand that and not let these television interviews and comments by the administration drag us down. Racism is violence. One race chosen over another is a significant crime against all of us. So, in the spirit of Martin Luther King, let’s celebrate this day, remember the lessons that have to be taught and we will look upon each and every one of us as a valuable individual in this world.”
Municipal Council President David Lyons also shared some personal remembrances of King during his remarks at the event and called upon the audience to continue striving to reach and achieve the dream of equality for all men and women, regardless of race, color, creed, religion or nationality.
“As a kid I lived in Georgia; when Dr. King, died my mother took me for a viewing and, a few days later, my teacher took me to the funeral,” said Lyons on Saturday, Jan. 13. “So I understand how important his legacy is. I understand how important protest is and I think we’ve kind of gotten away from that. So I want you kids to understand how important protest is and what he stood for and it still goes today, some of the things that he fought for.”
For more information about the rally on Thursday, Jan. 18, on the steps of Newark City Hall, call the Irvington Municipal Building at 973-399-6640, East Orange City Hall at 973-266-5151, Orange City Hall at 973-266-4000 or Newark City Hall at 973-733-4311.