Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a transformative figure who challenges us to make the world a better place, Sheila Y. Oliver, speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly, told guests recently at Clara Maass Medical Center (CMMC).
Oliver, who was born at CMMC when it was known as Lutheran Memorial Hospital, was the keynote speaker for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Brotherhood Awards on Jan. 23, an event that recognizes two medical center employees who are chosen by their peers as exemplifying the virtues embodied by Dr. King.
“He continues to influence people and societies throughout the world,” Oliver said of Dr. King, describing memorials made to the Civil Rights leader from South Africa, to Selma, Alabama. “It is our duty to be responsible citizens and conscientious stewards of freedom and democracy.”
Also speaking was Barry Carter, a columnist for the Star-Ledger, who said his goal as a writer is to “shed light on ordinary folks” who do compelling things.” He told vignettes about local residents who worked against segregation, for voting rights, who started non-profit organizations to help the underprivileged and about an 89-year-old man who simply cleaned his street every day of the week to make his community a better place.
Visitors were treated to songs by the CMMC choir and refreshments after the program, which was also attended by state Sen. Ronald Rice, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, Belleville Deputy Mayor Vincent Cozzarelli and Susie Yanez, who represented state Sen. Teresa Ruiz.