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Corporations honored at African American Chamber awards gala

Glenn Townes | 10/25/2015, 5:36 p.m.
More than 100 people recently attended the annual Corporate Awards dinner by the African American Chamber of Commerce of New ...
Rev. Dr. Deforest Soaries Jr. (center) receives an award for his outstanding community service from the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ) at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick, NJ. Rev. Soaries was the keynote speaker at the event. He is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, NJ. AACCNJ President John Harmon (r) and Board Chairman Hosea Johnson (l) look on.

More than 100 people recently attended the annual Corporate Awards dinner by the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ) at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick. Rev. Dr. DeForest Soaries, Jr., senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, was the keynote speaker.

Soaries highlighted the posh evening affair that, among other things, recognized several corporations for their outstanding service and commitment to the African American community across the state. The honorees included, United Airlines; FEDCAP, JCP&L and W.R. Burnett & Sons.

During his succinct, yet intense speech, Soaries implored attendees to welcome and embrace the entrepreneurial spirit and support African-American owned businesses. The notion of starting and supporting Black businesses has long been a mantra spirit of the outspoken and at times, controversial faith-based leader. “We have got to stop making other people rich off of our own ignorance,” he said. “Being in debt is in our culture {but it doesn't have to be}.” Soaries was the first African American man to serve as New Jersey's Secretary of State between 1999 and 2002. In 2005 he launched the highly successful Financial Freedom Movement— and wrote a book that guides people to becoming debt free. In addition, Soaries has been an outspoken supporter of prisoner re-entry initiatives, including implementing legislation that enable individuals with criminal histories unencumbered access to employment---including work at small and minority owned businesses. “Having a criminal background should not impact the future of people and prevent them from secured and permanent employment,” he said.

In a related matter, John Harmon, president and CEO of the AACCNJ, announced that Lt. General Russel Honore' will be the keynote speaker at the organization’s annual circle of achievement gala in February. Honore' was Commander of Joint Task Force Katrina and Global Preparedness Authority. The distinguished military leader oversaw, at least in part, the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The awards gala will be on February 18, 2016, at the Mansion on Main Street in Voorhees, NJ.