South Orange/Maplewood CCR to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day

MAPLEWOOD / SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — The South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race will hold its 22nd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance and luminary lighting on Monday, Jan. 16, at 2 p.m. in the Columbia High School auditorium, 17 Parker Ave. in Maplewood. The program, titled “Creating Community in the Face of Discord,” will feature speaker Robt Martin Seda-Schreiber, the chief activist at the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice in Princeton. The event will include arts performances and a luminary benediction. For more information, visit

Every year, the coalition invites the community to light up the outside of their homes or businesses with luminaries as the sun sets on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The goal is for thousands of homes in SOMA to be lit up as a sign of hope, sanctuary, peace and solidarity with King’s vision of the “beloved community.” The luminaries are white bags with tea lights inside that can be decorated with images of peace and community. A fundraiser for the coalition, they come four per pack for a small fee.

King’s “beloved community” is a global vision in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In this vision, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.

Each year since 2013, more than 2,000 luminaries have been lit throughout SOMA neighborhoods, at Seton Hall University, all around the Meadowland Park Pond, and in front of buildings and businesses. The luminary project was started by South Orange resident Patricia Canning and continues to be led by a team of women from South Orange and Maplewood. The volunteers work with local youth groups to create the kits, oversee neighborhood luminary leaders and recruit businesses to be luminary purchase sites.

Email to purchase kits and to learn how to be a neighborhood luminary leader. Orders can also be placed at