The Urban League of Essex County is mourning the loss of Vernon Jordan, former President of the National Urban League.
I met Vernon Jordan when he came to Newark to speak at Rutgers Law School, a few years ago.
When I introduced myself he was genuinely interested in what the organization had been doing. He shared a few big fights that took place within during his tenure at the National Urban League. He recalled with fondness that he had visited our offices and that he had been very proud of our partnership with IBM that had prepared so many peopled in early digital skills first as keypunch operators and then with PC skills when the first PCs were introduced.
In his talk he shared his personal story about growing up during segregation in Georgia which formed the basis for his book, Vernon Can Read. The cadence of his speech -- deep, baritone, slow, and southern was almost spellbinding. One word held you wanting until the next word was delivered. I came to the talk expecting to be engaged. What I didn't expect was the phone call I received the next morning.
"This is Vernon Jordan", he said. I recognized the voice. but I couldn't believe my ears. He went on to say how he had enjoyed meeting me the evening before and he wanted to offer his assistance if I ever needed it. He was glad to hear that the affiliate was doing well, he work offered his encouragement to keep pushing, and he reiterated the importance of the work to the advancement of racial progress. I was genuinely moved by his graciousness and thoughtfulness to reach out to me. We have a saying in the Urban League, "Once an Urban Leaguer, always an Urban Leaguer." I never called Mr. Jordan for advice and counsel, but I always knew that I could.
National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial issued the following statement in response to the passing of his predecessor, Vernon Jordan:
“The nation has lost one of its greatest champions of racial and economic justice. He was a transformational leader who brought the movement into a new era. He was a personal mentor and dear friend. His passing leaves a tremendous void that can never be filled.
“Vernon assumed leadership of the National Urban League at a crucial moment in history, after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and the Fair Housing Act. The broad, legal goals of the 20th Century Civil Rights Movement had been achieved. His mission, as he saw it, was to empower Black Americans to realize the promise of these victories. In his words, “Black people today can check into any hotel in America, but most do not have the wherewithal to check out.”
“The exceptional poise and dignity with which he carried himself was just as striking as his impressive height. Born into an era when Black men were routinely addressed as “Boy,” Vernon’s mother pointedly nicknamed him “Man.” He honored her faith in him with his bravery, his grace, his brilliance and his excellence.
“The National Urban League would not be where it is today without Vernon Jordan. We have lost more than a leader; we have lost a brother. We send our prayers to his wife, Ann, his daughter, Vickee, and his entire family and extended family as we rededicate our commitment to his vision of justice and equality.”
-Courtesy of the Urban League of Essex County
In alliance with museums, cultural centers and historic sites all around the country, Microsoft Community is curating a customized series of immersive virtual experiences for K-12 Students.
“Youth, We Hear You!” On Monday, January 18, 2021, The State of New Jersey Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission hosted a Virtual Youth Conference in honor of Dr. King’s life and legacy. Through panels, workshops, and networking, the virtual conference highlighted key issues of justice, education, the global impact of Dr. King and the relevance of his message in these challenging times. Missed the conference? Take a look at the sessions and Make It a Day Online today!
We, the Commissioners of the New Jersey Martin Luther King Commemorative Commission, denounce the senseless murders of George Floyd; Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and countless other African Americans who for too long have been the victims of institutionalized racial injustice in this country. In his book Why We Can’t Wait, Dr. King wrote “Three hundred years of humiliation, abuse and deprivation cannot be expected to find voice in a whisper.” We decry the effects of systemic racial discrimination, not with a whisper, but with a thunderous outcry that we will match with renewed vigilance and purposeful and powerful actions.
Each year, the Commission, the first such State Commission in the Nation, recalls historical events in the life of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement, while focusing on issues of current import. We have commemorated the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Jackie Robinson breaking the color line in baseball, and “Women Who Led” in the struggle for civil rights. This year, we have chosen the theme: “Youth, We Hear You,” recognizing the emerging voices of a new generation. We will host a Youth Town Hall in the Fall, and our annual Commemorative on January 17, 2021, which will be followed by a statewide virtual Youth Conference and Day of Service on January 18, 2021.
In the face of the recent historically deplorable events, and the extraordinary moment that they offer, the Commission plans to develop an agenda focused on key issues that provide both challenges and opportunities for progress. We believe that New Jersey can be a role model to finally recognize the fullest manifestation of democracy in this country. This vision calls for policies that guarantee equal protection under the law; that promise that race and poverty will no longer be death sentences; and an end to mass incarceration. We call for eliminating deadly force police protocols, de-militarized policing, developing a comprehensive plan to end school desegregation, and exploring ideas that are being studied related to reparative justice. We also call for appropriate funding for counseling services for students to address bullying and racial discrimination. We will make our agenda known throughout the state and will invite groups and individuals, of all ages and backgrounds, to join us in achieving these objectives. We will also highlight the ongoing work of organizations throughout New Jersey and provide a platform for them to share our mutual commitment and goals.
As we recognize Dr. King’s call to action in the “fierce urgency of now,” we call upon everyone to become involved, to join us in partnership, and to go from strength to strength together. Please join us!
A dramatic highlight of the 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative was the contribution of this extraordinary painting of Dr. King by the artist Aaron Fisher, who spoke at the event. This painting was a courtesy gift to The New Jersey MLK Commission, from Mercer County Freeholder Sam Frisby and the Capital City Area Black Caucus. Freeholder Frisby also arranged with the artist to provide a beautiful print of the painting to all attendees at the Commemorative. Freeholder Frisby is a member of the Commission, which expresses its great thanks for this unique and striking likeness of Dr. King.
"At the 2020 Commemorative, Major Lakisha Hale-Earl recognized the extraordinary service of Sgt. Hilda Griggs who served in World War II as part of an African American unit of 855 women who were given an extraordinary mission overseas in England and France. You will be as surprised and moved by this long-overdue recognition of Sgt. Griggs, who is now age 96 and who attended and spoke at the Commemorative."
The program serves those in recovery from opioid and other additions. These AmeriCorps members made and donated blankets for the Mother and Child homeless shelter.
We had an awesome Dr. King program at my church yesterday. Our children recited Dr. King quotes, the history and facts of the King Holiday, and numerous other activities. They also, were asked to answer questions after each speaker. We printed photos of Dr. King with captions and after each child read, we put the photo on the poster, shown in the photo.
The NJ Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Commission was invited to join the City of Paterson at a ribbon-cutting for the new Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park. Commissioners Theodora Lacey and Jamie Bland represented the Commission.
It has been 400 years since the first arrival in English-occupied North America of enslaved people from Africa. To mark this anniversary, the Commission is highlighting resources related to the history of slavery in New Jersey.
The mission of the New Jersey Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission is to raise public awareness of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s ideals and philosophy.
George V. Guy, Jr., Chair
Senator Christopher Bateman
Senator Kristin Corrado
Senator Ronald L. Rice
Senator Shirley K. Turner
Assemblywoman Cleopatra G. Tucker
Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds Jackson
Reverend Timothy Levi Adkins-Jones
James L. Ballentine
Jamie E. Bland
Al-Tariq W. Best
Dr. Kenyon C. Burke
Carolyn V. Chang, Esq.
Reverend Kenneth Darryl Ray Clayton
Sarah Murray Dundas
Willie Dwayne Francois III
Freeholder Samuel Frisby
Bernadette Glover, D.Min.
Dr. Richlyn Goddard
Diane Hill, Ph. D
Reverend Jack Johnson
Agha M. Khan
Brenda R. Lee
Dr. Charles E. Menifield
Deborah M. Prinz
Imam Wahy-ud Deen Shareef
Jackie P. Taylor