On Monday January 16, at Mercer’s James Kerney campus in Trenton an “I Can Succeed” event was held to commemorate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The keynote speaker at the event was Mercer alumnus John H. Harmon, who is president and founder of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey. Harmon gave a speech about the state of Dr. King’s dream and what parts of it are still yet to be realized to their maximum potential.
Harmon recounted that the message of this commemoration was that “Dr. King was all about the people and not about himself.” Harmon said he thought King would have a “mixed reaction” if he saw the world today.
“On one hand [King would] see significant progress. On the other hand [he would] see that we should be a lot farther along. He’d probably be very disappointed in terms of the level of courage of our black leadership and the performance of our young kids educationally,” he said.
Harmon said he thought that America has taken some of King’s message for granted. “His message was not only dreaming, but bringing the dream to fruition. He was a worker, he wasn’t a talker. I think today we do much more commentary than actually putting the shovel to the plow and that’s where we’re coming up short,” he said.
In addition to Harmon’s presentation, there was an ecclectic assortment of performances that included the mime team Brothers of Faith, a dance troop that consisted of Mercer’s African American Student Organization (AASO), and singer and Mercer student Taylor Stokes Pickett. There were also readings of quotes from famous African Americans by students from the Youth College and Yes Center programs and a poetry reading by Alma Day.
The event was emceed by Communications professor Alvyn Haywood who said in an interview with The VOICE that he hoped the event would “send the message that not only have we realized, in part, Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream, and people who are awake no longer need to dream. But they can be visionaries in terms of their awareness and wakefulness as a community, as a people, as a nation and as dwellers here on the blue planet.”
Haywood agreed with Harmon that parts of King’s dream need to be revisited. “After the pandemic of the crack drug, many of us sort of became afraid of our young people and didn’t really take them under our wing and sort of mentor them to do their best. So I think we’re now reaping the whirlwind as a result of not doing that.” Haywood said.