Tren­ton’s im­por­tance to Black His­tory Month

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - OPINION - Send your let­ter to the editor to Let­[email protected]­to­

Black His­tory Month is an im­por­tant time to re­flect on the con­tri­bu­tions that black Tren­to­ni­ans have given to our com­mu­nity and our coun­try.

Dou­glas Palmer, Tren­ton’s first African Amer­i­can mayor, led our City for two decades. He presided over Tren­ton’s rise as a trans­porta­tion hub, bring­ing Am­trak ser­vice to our City, and fought to get guns off the streets.

Tren­ton is also the home town of David Dink­ins, New York City’s first African Amer­i­can mayor. He con­tin­ues to work in pub­lic ser­vice, serv­ing on the boards of the Chil­dren’s Health Fund, the As­so­ci­a­tion to Ben­e­fit Chil­dren, and the Nel­son Man­dela Chil­dren’s Fund and is the Chair­man Emer­i­tus of the Na­tional Black Lead­er­ship Com­mis­sion on AIDS.

Tren­ton is proud to have been the home of civil rights ac­tivist Edith Sav­age-Jen­nings. At age 13, she helped in­te­grate the Cap­i­tal The­ater by re­fus­ing to sit in the bal­cony. She raised money for King’s South­ern Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence and be­came close friends with the Kings, with Coretta even­tu­ally serv­ing as Edith’s Maid of Honor. Edith’s ac­tivism con­tin­ued through­out her life, and she was a key­note speaker at the 2017 Women’s March in Tren­ton.

Sig­nif­i­cant ath­letes came from Tren­ton, in­clud­ing Al Down­ing, who pitched Hank Aaron’s 715th home run, break­ing Babe Ruth’s record. Elvin Bethea, a former de­fen­sive end for the Hous­ton Oil­ers, is also a Tren­ton Na­tive. He was in­ducted into the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame in 2003. Troy Vin­cent was in­ducted into the Sports Hall of Fame for the Philadel­phia Ea­gles and is now the Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent of Foot­ball Op­er­a­tions for the NFL.

We are also the home of Emmy, Grammy, and Tony-nom­i­nated play­wright Ntozake Shange. Her play “for col­ored girls who have con­sid­ered sui­cide/when the rain­bow is enuf” earned her an Obie Award and was turned into a 2010 Tyler Perry film.

And, of course, Tren­ton is cur­rently rep­re­sented in Congress by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bon­nie Wat­son Cole­man. She has the dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the first African Amer­i­can woman elected to rep­re­sent New Jer­sey in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. In Congress, she co­founded the Con­gres­sional Cau­cus on Black Women and Girls. As black women and girls are dis­pro­por­tion­ately im­pacted by so­cioe­co­nomic is­sues that threaten qual­ity of life, the Cau­cus works to elim­i­nate bar­ri­ers of suc­cess for black women.

As many of you know, the City of Tren­ton is cel­e­brat­ing Black His­tory Month with events ev­ery Fri­day. Our kick­off event was Fe­bru­ary 1st and was a cel­e­bra­tion of arts and cul­ture. On Fri­day, Fe­bru­ary 8, City Hall is hosted African drum­mers and dancers in the atrium from 12-1 p.m. Up­com­ing events in­clude a Jazz Jam on Fe­bru­ary 15 and Lessons from our Past on Fe­bru­ary 22, both at 12 p.m. in the City Hall Atrium. All are en­cour­aged to at­tend. Look out for event de­tails on this and other cel­e­bra­tions.

Look out for both Ci­tyspon­sored and other com­mu­nity events that I’ll be shar­ing through­out Fe­bru­ary. If you have an event you’d like the pub­lic to at­tend, please feel free to reach out to my of­fice at (609) 9893032. — Tren­ton Mayor W. Reed Gus­ciora

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