It is street naming season in Paterson, where three different avenues are set to receive additional name tags: a section of Van Houten Street to be also known as Alhaj Forman Ali Street; Auburn Street also to be known as Freedom Boulevard; and a section of Hamilton Avenue to also be known as Francena (Josey) Grier Way.
Alhaj Forman Ali Street
Alhaj Forman Ali, a Muslim, who relocated to the city in 1973, and played an instrumental role in the founding of the Islamic Foundation of New Jersey, a non-profit organization, which opened Jalalabad Jam-E-Masjid, a mosque, located on Van Houten Street, will have the section of the aforementioned street between Main Street and Curtis Place named in his honor.
Mr Ali, born in February 7, 1922, entered the United States from his native Bangladesh in 1973, prior to establishing the mosque, he held congregational prayer in his basement to meet the religious needs of local Bangladeshi-Muslim community. Mr Ali’s mosque was established in 1980; he passed away on November 15, 1997; his family continue to attend the mosque he helped found.
Francena (Josey) Grier Way
Francena Grier-Craigwell, a community organizer, who founded one of the earliest community watches in the city, while working at William Paterson University, will be honored with a section of Hamilton Avenue bearing her name. “She was instrumental in organizing her area, and then organizing other areas,” said Ruby Cotton, the 4th Ward councilwoman, who says she met Ms Grier-Craigwell during the 1980s and 1990s.
Ms Grier-Craigwell also taught Sunday classes at Grace Bible Class Church in Passaic where she attempted to inoculate piety and virtuousness in the young. Ms Grier-Craigwell passed away in 2007. Both of the streets will be known by their original name as well as the additional new names. A street naming ceremony will be held for Ms Grier-Craigwell in the area of Hamilton Avenue on Tuesday, August 6th, 2013, at 6:45 p.m.
Although both Mr Ali and Ms Grier-Craigwell have left their respective communities better than the way they found them, neither is a Hamilton, a Sherman, or an Emerson.
“I think these honors are substantial city honors,” said William McKoy, the 3rd Ward councilman, who shrouded his reservation on street naming honors to “I don’t believe the resolution…reflects her [Ms Grier-Craigwell’s] full contribution.” Mr McKoy was not alone in expressing misgivings about dishing out new street naming honors.
Anthony Davis, the 1st Ward councilman, showed visible signs of hesitation in additionally naming Van Houten Street to Alhaj Forman Ali Street, he couched his argument in, “We’re not about to disenfranchise anyone.”
“Street naming is one of the highest honors one can bestow on a citizen of any community, and I want to be sure we’re not going down the slippery slope of naming streets simply based on ethnicity,” said Kenneth Morris junior, councilman-at-large, deftly picking up on where Mr Davis left off.