Standing with King

Joy and resolve rise to the top at NJPAC’s annual MLK tribute


Solidarity and service in the face of political turmoil was the recurrent theme of NJPAC’s Living the Dream awards ceremony on Jan. 12, held as part of the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. The gathering concluded with a spirited, faith-affirming concert by Mary Mary and Tasha Cobbs-Leonard.


Three honorees, whose contributions to Newark and its greater community embrace the King legacy, were ushered into the Chase Room to the uplifting sounds of the Rev. Stefanie Minatee’s Jubilation Choir and young musicians of NJPAC’s Wells Fargo Jazz for Teens. More than 200 dinner guests stood in ovations for Newark NAACP President Deborah Smith-Gregory, recipient of the Steward of the Dream award; the Rev. Ronald Slaughter, Senior Pastor of St. James AME Church, recognized as the Visionary of the Future, and Philip S. Thomas, NJPAC’s Founding Vice President of Arts Education, who was inducted into the Council of Elders.


Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka condemned the relentless divisiveness in Washington and praised the evening’s awardees for “making Dr. King’s legacy a reality in the City of Newark.” His points were echoed in remarks by NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber, who forwarded the idea that King today would be heartened by the power of the community in shouldering the fight for social justice.


Rick Thigpen, Vice President of State Governmental Affairs for PSEG – sponsor of the event, with United Airlines and ADP – returned to Living the Dream proceedings to share his esteem for the honorees, whom he described as “extraordinary examples of achievement in our own community.”


The news that day was saturated with reports about a certain tell-all published about the White House, but Pastor Slaughter advised the audience to check out his favorite book: Strength to Love, King’s compilation of sermons concerning racial segregation, written in part from a jail cell.


Jan. 16, 2018