NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – On Sunday, February 17 Councilwoman Keiona Miller hosted the 3rd Annual North Plainfield Community Black History Month Celebration. Approximately 600 residents from North Plainfield and neighboring towns gathered at North Plainfield High School filling the auditorium to its capacity, while others sat most of the night out backstage and in dressing rooms.
The theme of this year’s program was Overcoming Adversity, Celebrating Diversity. The program featured various renditions of live- African inspired dance, songs, poetry, and the Pyramid Leadership Award Presentation. The Pyramid Leadership Award was created by North Plainfield Councilwoman Miller to recognize individuals who exemplify outstanding civic leadership in North Plainfield and around the state of New Jersey.
Shiloh Baptist Church Choir led by Wendel C. Woods.
This year’s Pyramid Leadership Award was presented to five North Plainfield Police Officers for their leadership of the North Plainfield Police Youth Academy.
North Plainfield Police Chief William Parenti expressed that he was thankful for being included in this year’s Black History Month celebration. “Kudos to Councilwoman Miller for gathering over 500 people, filling the auditorium to its capacity. The program instilled the theme for this year event Overcoming Adversity – Celebrating Diversity. I enjoyed the performances and learned a great deal from the speakers. As Police Chief you can be assured, we are moving in a progressive direction both here in North Plainfield and throughout the State. My fellow Chiefs of Police and I are meeting with the clergy and community leaders, to establish trust and inject into the community a belief that ‘We are police officers, and we care more about your well-being. We do not care about your race, religion, immigration status, or sexual orientation.’ It is imperative that law enforcement maintain the trust and support of the citizens as partners in the co-production of public safety,” said Parenti.
“The program was culturally rich, with inspiring speakers and performances that demonstrated the vibrant artistic elements of our culture. What I loved most about the event was the diversity in the room. Councilwoman Miller created a program that allows everyone to learn about, enjoy and celebrate Black History together. It was an honor to be in the room,” said Councilwoman Denise Wilkerson, President of the Roselle City Council.
Program participants and performers included students from North Plainfield High and Elementary schools, Plainfield and North Plainfield area churches, local residents, civic groups, North Plainfield Police department and North Plainfield school staff.
Melonie Marano, Former Mayor of Greenbrook stated “The talent in North Plainfield shined brightly on Sunday by its students, singers, dancers and speakers, all celebrating Black History Month; a true collaboration of uplifting community spirit in the theme of “Overcoming Adversity and Celebrating Diversity”.
Speakers included New Jersey State Assemblywoman Linda Carter, Somerset County Freeholder Shanel Robinson, North Plainfield High School Principal Jerard Stephenson, Chief Parenti and Rutgers Professor of African American Studies William Davis. Principal Jerard Stephenson said, “This was truly an amazing event that showcased the beauty of North Plainfield.”
Miller’s message for the evening was simply this; “Black history is American history. America has a deeply tainted past and many unpleasant present moment experiences, but celebrating our triumphs, drawing life lessons from past struggles, gaining a better understanding of who we are as Americans, and how and why we got to the place where we find ourselves today as a collective and diverse body gives us leverage to build a better future; to fully actualize what Dr. King envisioned in his famous dream.
“Whether or not we think about it, you and I rewrite America’s history every single day by the choices we make as individuals, heads of households, and leaders in our respective fields. My hope in producing the North Plainfield Community celebration is to reanimate our personal sense of purpose and responsibility in shaping America’s history. Whether you are Black, White, Latino, Indian, Alaskan Native, Asian American or other, this is our time. We decide what future generations will believe about the fortitude and resilience of this great nation. The struggle continues, but so do the triumphs as we strive to work together as one nation; overcoming adversity, celebrating our diversity.”
Melonie Morano, Former Mayor of Greenbrook, stated “The talent in North Plainfield shined brightly on Sunday by its students, singers, dancers and speakers, all celebrating Black History Month; a true collaboration of uplifting community spirit in the theme of “Overcoming Adversity and Celebrating Diversity”. Principal Jerard Stephenson said, “It was truly an amazing event that showcased the beauty of North Plainfield.”
Speakers included New Jersey State Assemblywoman Linda Carter (pictured, above), Somerset County Freeholder Shanel Robinson, North Plainfield High School Principal Jerard Stephenson, Chief Parenti and Rutgers Professor of African American Studies William Davis.
Freeholder Robinson said, “Challenges in the face of adversity are opportunities to bring people together and celebrate their differences. The program fit the bill, where people from different ethnic, race and religious backgrounds all celebrated Black History Month together. The program was informative, educational, and entertaining. As the first black Somerset County Freeholder, I’m honored to have been asked to be a part of this celebration.”
Assemblywoman Carter added, “We’re thankful to Councilwoman Miller for bringing and continuing the Black History program here in North Plainfield. The program grows each year and shows the rich culture and contributions African Americans have. It also shows the diversity in our community as we respect and celebrate each other.”
“It was absolutely wonderful to see the coming together of so many different community groups. I was moved beyond words by the magnitude of the program’s success. The entire community was represented. It was a beautiful coming together of people of the diverse ages, races, religions and political affiliations. Events like this reaffirm who we are as Americans, a magnificent blend of many cultures. I’m very proud of my community, and I cannot say thank you enough to all those who helped make this year’s event possible,” said Councilwoman Miller, the event founder and organizer.
If you know someone who you think should be considered for the Pyramid Leadership Award send a letter to firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/KeionaMillerUSA/