Booker’s Message: Never Forget Your Roots

Sen. Cory Booker talks with Asbury Park resident John Payne during the senator’s visit to Asbury Park for a Martin Luther King Jr. observance at Holy Spirit Church. COASTER photo.


When Cory A. Booker won his seat in Washington, as one of New Jersey’s two U.S. Senators, he may have had a new title and made a name for himself.

But, as he recalled, he was advised to remember his history. Booker’s parents, Carolyn and Cary, taught Booker and his elder brother, Cary II, the history of people of color in general and, specifically, family history.

“Both my parents wanted us to know who we were,” Booker said in remarks before an estimated 400 at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration Monday in Asbury Park. “There’s nothing more dangerous than a child without roots.”

“You emulate that history (of your heroes),” Booker said.

Booker was the main speaker at the 25th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Observance of the Central Jersey Club of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs.

The observance, held at Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church, keeps alive King’s memory, said event Chairperson Ruth Ann Paige.

“(It is) in honor of Dr. King’s birthday” – Jan. 15, 1929 – “and all he represents,” Paige said.

“It’s a commemoration of a great man’s life,” said an attendee, Tyrone Laws, 58, of Lake Como.

“People need to remember Dr. King was not always beloved of this country (because of discrimination),” Laws said. “We need to remember these times when he was not loved. And resist the human nature to revert back to such times.”

“I love learning about all the things he (King) has done,” said another attendee, Chelsea Miles, 19, of Neptune. “Paving the way, so we can have a better life.”

Ethan Suh-Davis of the Neptune Chapter of the New Jersey Orators quoted King to the group, people must learn to “live together as brothers or perish as fools.”

The title of this year’s MLK event, “A Call to Unity: 50 Years of Triumphs and Tragedies,” was a reference to the assassinated civil right leader’s works and the 50th anniversary of the Central Jersey Club, which serves black women of Monmouth and Ocean counties.

“We are a community service organization,” said B. Sheree Terrell-Walker, the publicity person for the observance, adding the group has about 50 members.

The club is “investing in students, giving out (college) scholarships and educating the community in areas of Leadership, Education, Technology and Service,” or LETS, said club 1st Vice President Karma Williams-Davis.

“Your presence verifies that Dr. Martin Luther King, his dream lives on,” said Asbury Park Mayor Myra Campbell. “It lives on in each of you.”

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-NJ, recalled two of King’s dreams, “America was the place where there will always be equal opportunity” and “a participatory democracy.”

“Everybody should be able to vote, speak out,” Pallone said.

“Our job is to carry that torch, see if we can make things a little better this year,” said Thomas F. Hayes, director of Consumer and Community Relations for New Jersey Natural Gas, a sponsor of the club.

Booker, too, noted King’s dream continuing.

“An assassin’s bullet can knock him down, but what you cannot steal is the spirit, the urging, the marching on the road to justice,” Booker said.

“Don’t forget what got you here,” Booker said. “It is not a time to rest on our laurels. We’ve come a long way, but we’ve a mighty long way to go.”

And it is us, Booker said, to get work done.

“We have work to do,” he said.

The Central Jersey Club of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs can be reached at P.O. Box 1161, Asbury Park, 07712; e-mail:

The club will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a luncheon April 12 at the Sheraton hotel in Eatontown. Info is available from the club e-mail.

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