PRESS RELEASE – Governor-Elect Phil Murphy’s Representative Addresses Crowd At Orange Housing Authority Event Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

Orange, NJ – January 12, 2017 – Crowds squeezed into the Washington Manor Community Room, at the Housing Authority of the City of Orange, to hear a rousing speech by Elder Derrick Green, senior advisor for outreach for Governor-elect Phil Murphy’s transition team.

Elder Green was the keynote speaker at the Housing Authority’s breakfast event, Honors the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Friday, January 12, 2017. He was joined at the podium by Assemblyman Thomas Giblin, who represents Essex County (D-34th Dist.).

An early supporter of Phil Murphy, Rev. Green was the driving force behind the establishment of Africans for Phil Murphy, a statewide, get-out-the-vote initiative, successful in motivating the African-American community to vote and become engaged in the primary and general elections.

Elder Green is an Award of Appreciation recipient, given during the Third Annual African Entertainment Awards in 2017, which honors the achievements of leaders in the African-American community. The non-profit’s purpose is to “showcase an Africa that is united, self-sufficient, and willing and able to evoke social change.”

“I am here to honor Dr. Martin Luther King as a transformative man, and we were blessed to have Dr. King with us for the short time he was with us,” Elder Green told the crowd. “Dr. King fought segregation and Jim Crow. He fought for integration. He fought for equality. He fought affordable, decent housing. He fought for healthcare. Today, they are trying to take healthcare away from people. He fought for immigrants to have rights and be respected because we are a country of immigrants. Dr. King marched with young people. Dr. King marched with the poor. Dr. King marched with those who wanted a decent wage like you.  Dr. King fought with labor to ensure that wages and conditions and benefits existed for workers.”

“Dr. King saw the issues, and he brought people together no matter if you were black, no matter if you were white, no matter who you were, but you had to have the inner spirit to care about the person next to you, to want to see their lives better, to want to see their lives improved. That is why Dr. King gave his life for us. Now it is up to us to continue the fight.”

His speech was greeted by nodding heads and shouts of agreement. “I wanted to stand up and say, ‘Preach. Preach. Preach,” said resident George Melvin. Likewise, neighbor Deborah Hodges, who nodded her head and murmured her agreement throughout, said, “I was too young, but my parents told me about Dr. King. I respect this young man for his presence and giving me the knowledge that I almost thought I had forgotten. It brought tears to my eyes.”

Dr. Walter McNeil, Jr., the Housing Authority executive director, was among those who acknowledged the impact Dr. King had on his life.

“Of course, Dr. King has always been an inspiration to me as I went through school, as I was growing up,” said McNeil.  “He meant so much to me because he had an impact on everyone in my life, from my mother, my father, to my uncles. He had an impact on them, and they definitely had an impact on me. It is so hard to believe that in the 60’s, which is not so long ago, black folks couldn’t drink out of the same water fountains as whites. We have to continue to keep up the fight, to make sure that things are always equal. That we don’t let our fellow man/woman feel they are getting disparaged, so they have an equal opportunity to live in this beautiful country of ours.”

Hailed as a warrior by Elder Green, Assemblyman Giblin also addressed the crowd. “We all know the tremendous impact Dr. King has had on American society, and, most importantly, on African Americans. It is important to continue these observations, especially for children and grandchildren. We need to be reminded of the contributions that Dr. King made available for all of us and paved the way for many opportunities that might not exist if he had not shown the leadership during the 60’s.”

“We have to do our part here,” the assemblyman continued. “We have to make sure we are registered to vote, that our children are registered to vote, and our grandchildren are registered to vote, and making sure they vote. We have to carefully analyze people who are running for office and making sure they are responsive to our concerns and our needs. These are challenging times.”

Perhaps resident Lydia Falana, a Nigerian immigrant, took home the most important lesson from the event. “Goosebumps” was how she described her reaction. “Most important, we have to make it up. All of us have to make it up to stand for everything Dr. King did for us in his lifetime.”

About the Orange Housing Authority

The City of Orange Housing Authority works to transform the City of Orange by providing safe, livable and affordable housing that promotes the development of communities. At the Orange Housing Authority, participants are not statistics, they are neighbors. The OHA knows the community and tailors programs to better serve the participant’s needs. Whether it is a search for housing, assistance with foreclosure or neighborhood development, the Orange Housing Authority stands ready to offer its services to all residents.