MLK-inspired luminaries set South Orange aglow

Martin Luther King Jr.’s influence on social justice and equality has had an incredibly powerful impact on the people of America. Though it seems restrictive to commemorate the activist’s contribution to the civil rights movement on merely one day of the year, the country declares the third Monday of January as rightfully his.

Sarah Yenesel / Photography Editor

On Jan. 22, Seton Hall University celebrated with an honorary symposium for students, alumni, and high school educators organized by Rev. Forrest Pritchett and partook in a complimentary luminary event in the Main Lounge of the University Center.

The one-day event celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. for registered students and 200 public educators “was a great opportunity to bring together faculty, students, and members of the community,” Peter Shoemaker, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, said.

Since the celebratory events of this distinctive day aimed to bring a multitude of people together, it could especially act as a catalyst for mediation on campus, in light of events endorsed by the Concerned 44 group last semester.

“All community events represent an opportunity for understanding and communication if those outcomes are sought,” Pritchett said. Primarily, this event commemorated the life, the work, and the spirit of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Similarly, every year the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race hosts the Luminaries Project, in which business districts and residents decorate and light luminaries, decorated white bags with electronic candles inside, to celebrate Dr. King.

Shoemaker, in an effort to further connect Seton Hall University with our community neighbors, had committed $100 from the Arts and Sciences budget to purchase 40 luminaries to be decorated by students.

Additionally, Pritchett, the director of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Program, was able to get a student discount for luminary kits at a price of $5 for 4 kits (normally $10 for 4). The purchase of the kits constitutes a charity donation to the South Orange and Maplewood Community Coalition on Race at

According to Shoemaker, Sheena Collum, the South Orange Village President, reached out and invited Seton Hall to participate. “I thought that this was a great way to collaborate with the SOMA community, and I invited other colleges to contribute. Arts and Sciences, Business, Communication and the Arts, Diplomacy, Education and Human Services, and the Law School have all purchased luminaries,” Dean Shoemaker said.

After Monday, these luminaries can be found on sidewalks and driveways across the two townships, as well as around campus. They are a symbol that demonstrates unity in the community, as well as a representation of appreciation for Martin Luther King Jr. and his efforts that made harmony possible.

Caitlin Gartley is a staff writer for The Setonian and can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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