King Breakfast Attendees Urged To ‘Live The Dream’

New Jersey Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Franklin native Tiffany Williams speaks during the Jan. 21 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast.

Hundreds of attendees at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast were urged Jan. 21 to continue the slain civil rights leader’s legacy by acting as he would.

“Dr. King’s legacy would demand that we not sit back, that we look inside of ourselves first, and that we launch out where we see injustice,” keynote speaker Tiffany M. Williams told the crowd. “He had a passion to lead a life as a servant-leader.”

Williams, a Franklin native, is the New Jersey Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. She’s a former Administrative Law Judge and founder of the Esther Project, a global women’s empowerment organization.

Williams was chosen as the featured speaker at the 22nd annual event, held at the Doubletree Hotel on Atrium Drive.

The foundation raises money for scholarships for Franklin Township graduating seniors. To date, the foundation has awarded nearly $195,000 in scholarships.

“Dr King told us that his legacy is about a dream,” Williams told the crowd. “It’s about a dream of freedom and equality.”

“His dream was one of activism, not of sitting still, not of sending a word of encouragement, but of standing with brothers and sisters in the struggle,” she said. “His legacy is about empowerment personally, collectively and globally. His work did not just encourage you to act locally, he wanted you to think locally, act globally and let the impact of your actions be felt worldwide.”

“He was a global visionary,” she said.

King’s legacy, Williams said, “demonstrates that in finding our purpose and where we stand right now in times of adversity, that we should recognize the fierce urgency of now.”

“Now is the time, the time is now,” she said.

Williams gave teh audience a “personal call to action,” which, she said, was to, “look at the legacy of Dr. King as your personal call to empowerment, to discover your purpose, to unleash the gifts and talents that are inside of you, to be the answer to the social dilemmas that we see right now. Where do you stand? The time is now for you.”

Williams said that King’s legacy allows the empowerment of women, which is what inspired her to create the Esther Project.

She ticked off a number of women’s issues, including sexual assault, pay equity, mistreatment in the judicial system and the lack of women in leadership positions, all of which King’s legacy “compels us to act” on.

“Dr. King was about personal empowerment, finding your purpose, launching it out into the world, furthering social justice, looking out for the least of these, doing what you can in your sphere of influence right around you,” she said.

State Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-17) said King “was someone who made us forget about our differences, rather to celebrate our uniqueness, our religion, our differences in our cultures that bring us together.”

“Today Franklin Township is the home of many mosques and churches and synagogues and languages,” he said. “So when you think of Martin Luther King, don’t stay quiet, think about what he did, make some noise. Be that legacy that he started.”

King “gave us real-life examples of how communities can come together to advocate for causes and inspire cultural and legislative changes that are still in effect today,” said Imam Syed Riwan Rizvi of the Masjid-e-Ali.

“His movement might have been for blacks’ rights, but he was trying to salvage all other races,” he said. “He became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks, but also the world. The specialty of Dr. Martin Luther King’s movement and marches was peace.”

The community foundation board gave a special award to co-founder and former president Eva Nagy. Current president Sgt. Sean Hebbon of the Franklin Township Police Department announced that a “public service” scholarship was created in her name.

“I am beyond humbled and honored to receive this praise and to have that scholarship named after me,” Nagy said.

“When the three of us, Frank Pepe, Dan Livak and I came together, it was Frank Pepe’s dream to have a breakfast and as board president and chief of police and superintendent, we felt this would be special for our community,” she said. “If you don’t have a vision and a dream … people without a dream perish.”

“Friendships have been made, people have met each other who would not have met each other, students’ lives have been touched,” she said.

“Remember, love knows no differences,” she said. “Love cares, love supports, love reaches out in hand. Let’s keep Dr. King’s dream alive, that it is an active dream for each one of us, don’t let the differences divide us, but let the love unite us.”

Also during the event, Natalia Owusu of the New Jersey Orators presented a rendition of Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes award acceptance speech from Jan. 7, 2018.

In a new feature, dance performances were given by Akilah Johnson and Tonei Silver of the Inspira Performing Arts & Cultural Center in New Brunswick, and by Rashmi and Gayatri Gairola, a mother-and-daughter team going by the name of “Desi Girls.”

As they have the last three community breakfasts, members of the Community Fellowship Mass Choir of Somerset performed several selections.

Franklin High School senior Kamari Kelton sang the National Anthem following the presentation of colors by the Franklin Township Police Department Honor Guard.

Here are some scenes from the event:


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