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Department of State

New Jersey Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission

The Hon. Tahesha Way, Lt. Governor and Secretary of State
New Jersey Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission

NJ Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission


It is with heavy heart that the New Jersey Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission announces the deaths of former Commission members

James Lawrence Ballantine in Morristown, NJ
Kenyon Clinton Burke in Ashburn, VA
Sarah Murray Dundas in Morris Township, NJ

Commission Chair George V. Guy, Jr. said “Our mission to educate our fellow New Jerseyans on Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement was enriched and fortified by the presence of veterans civil rights and social justice advocates James Ballentine, Kenyon Burke and Sarah Dundas. We will miss them but stand stronger for their contributions.”

The Commission extends sincere condolences to the families and friends of James Ballantine, Kenyon Burke and Sarah Dundas who served on the citizens of New Jersey and the Commission with distinction.


James Lawrence Ballantine
(1/19/70 – 5/3/22)


Kenyon Clinton Burke
(9/30/30 – 2/23/23)

Film Festival

Sarah Murray Dundas
(6/4/46 – 1/4/22)


After reviewing submissions for almost 200 New Jersey high school seniors, the New Jersey Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission announces the 10 winners of ‘Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere’ 2023 Scholarship Essay Contest:

MLK23 Scholar: 1
Barnard College of Columbia University
Science Park High School

MLK23 Scholar: 2
Princeton University
Ridge High School

MLK23 Scholar: 3
The Pingry School

MLK23 Scholar: 4
Harvard University
The Pingry School

MLK23 Scholar: 5
Columbia University
East Brunswick High School


MLK23 Scholar: 6
Academy for Performing Arts

MLK23 Scholar: 7
William Paterson University
Teaneck High School

MLK23 Scholar: 8
Union County Magnet High School

MLK23 Scholar: 9
University of Southern California
Lenape High School

MLK23 Scholar: 10
Princeton University
Livingston High School

“Our 2023 essay contest winners demonstrated a thoughtful understanding of how Dr. King’s fight against injustice was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent resistance movement that successfully ended almost a century of British colonial rule in India. I am thrilled to congratulate these young leaders and extend our wishes for their future success,” said NJ Secretary of State Tahesha Way.

“On behalf of the New Jersey Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission, we extend our congratulations to our ten MLK Scholars who will be entering college in the fall,” Commission Chairman George Guy said. “Their essays about Dr. King’s legacy and his inspiration for their academic work and community service, has given all of us great hope for the future.”

The 2023 MLK Scholars will be awarded $5,000 scholarship for the university or college of their choice.

2023 New Jersey Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission
I HAVE A DREAM mini grant

The New Jersey Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission is offering mini-grants in honor of the 60th anniversary of Dr. King’s I HAVE A DREAM speech, which he delivered at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963.

The Commission will award 10 mini-grants of $5,000 each, to community organizations and programs to highlight and commemorate Dr. King’s historic speech and its relevance to our times. We are seeking applications of up to 3 pages, including a budget, that will propose events or programs that might include:

Community Service or Clean-up; Presentation of MLK I Have a Dream Speech: Arts event; Civil Rights Discussion or Roundtable; Interviews of veterans of the Civil Rights Movement; Sports Event; Your own idea!!

Find out more information and how to apply

2023 MLK Scholarship Essay Competition for New Jersey High School Seniors

New Jersey Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative: Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere

New Jersey Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission

2023 MLK Scholarship Essay Competition for New Jersey High School Seniors


The semifinalists in the MLK23 Scholarship Contest have been notified.
The awards ceremony will be on May 31, 2023 at 7P.
More info to come. Thank you for your interest.


“Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere”

The Commission will award 10 scholarships of $5,000 per Student

The New Jersey Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission is proud to offer 10 scholarships to current high school seniors who are New Jersey residents in the amount of $5,000 per student. The scholarships will be awarded based on review of application by the independent reviewers appointed by the Commission. The online application includes three (3) essays on assigned topics. NOTE: Applicants selected for the final review will be required to email 2 school and community service reference letters and official high school transcript.

Applicants must respond to the following three essay questions:

  • How does the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspire you as you think about your future? (100to 300 words)
  • Please tell us about your service to others during your high school years. (100 to 300 words)
  • The Gandhian Society recently opened the Eternal Gandhi Peace Center in Atlantic City, NewJersey. In your own words, how do you think Mahatma Gandhi influenced Dr. Martin Luther KingJr.? (100 to 300 words)

Due Date: 5 PM, Friday, February 24, 2023


  • Three (3) Essays on “Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere” (see above for required topics).
    NOTE: Only applicants selected for final review will be asked to email:
  • Two (2) letters of reference from teachers, advisers, clergy and/or representatives of community-based service programs.
  • Official High School Transcript from 11th Grade.

If you have any questions, please email

Download the Contest Flyer

By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media

George Guy Jr. Impacts Children, Community in Cherry Hill and On MLK Commission

CHERRY HILL – George Guy Jr. entered Prairie View A&M University near Houston after attending high school in Willingboro to become a veterinarian.

Call to Action

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!

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 Children's March Videos:

Altanta History Center

History Channel


King and I:

New Jerseyans Reflect on the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in commemoration of his 90th Birthday

NJ Quotes on MLK

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