Westfield’s Roosevelt School Celebrates Black History with Special Guests
Friday, February 22, 2013 • 1:41pm
WESTFIELD, NJ—Roosevelt Intermediate School celebrated Black History Month Feb. 22 with an assembly featuring guest speaker Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., and a performance by the famed Newark Boys Chorus.
Soaries is the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset. Among his many other distinctions as religious leader, author and mediator, from Jan. 12 1999 until Jan. 15 2002, Soaries served as New Jersey’s 30th Secretary of State, making him the first African-American man to serve as a constitutional officer of the state.
“This is a great school. Westfield is a great community,” said Soaries, before he went on to tell a personal story of how his grandmother used to pack her lunch in a shoebox for a six-hour drive to visit family because no restaurant on her way would serve a black woman.
“She never lived long enough to see me become secretary of state,” he said.
Soaries encouraged the students to use the stories of how people saw something that was wrong and did something about it as a challenge and motivation to themselves to say “What can we change?”
He cited women’s rights, the Holocaust and prejudice against Catholics as other examples, and encouraged students to never allow bullying in their school.
The real message of Black History Month, he said, is “Never give up on your future, because things won’t always be that way.”
The Newark Boys Chorus, which has performed at all six of Roosevelt’s Black History assemblies, sang some of its songs with Roosevelt’s own Sharps and Flats.
Both Soaries and the Boys Chorus received standing ovations.