City officials raised the African-American flag in front of the City Hall building on Saturday afternoon, publicly ushering in Black History Month.
“We’re not just raising a flag,” said Jeffery Jones, the city’s mayor, addressing a crowd of about a hundred people from the steps of City Hall. “We need to remember our struggles. “We’re trying to make sure that we never forget our struggles.”
Indeed, the city’s African-Americans were barred from raising a flag at the city’s schools much less hoisting it above the main governmental building in the city until 1969. That year a group of students at Eastside High School successfully challenged the political establishment and managed to fly a red and black and green flag at that school making way for today’s event.
“Mayor you’re right, we’re not just raising a flag today. Black history month is a month to raise awareness, raising your involvement in the community to improve what’s around you in the community,” said Andre Sayegh, the city’s council president.
The North Jersey Girl Scouts recited the Black National Anthem as the flag was pulled up the pole by the mayor surrounded by county and city officials.
A number of the city’s prominent African-American residents were honored at the ceremony immediately following the flag raising. Zatiti Moody, principal of Eastside High School; Sonia Gordon, the city’s deputy clerk; Everton Scott, an activist; Roger Grier, a 4th Ward community activist; Donald Lynch, another activist; Kay Boles, a community activist; Gina Michelle Johnson, an educator; Louis Norris, a religious leader; and the youngest Jamier Wilson, a student.
Each honoree was given a framed resolution recognizing their contribution to the community. “This is our birthday,” said Jones citing a number of famous African-Americans who were born in February, and managed to leave their mark on American history. “You think of the contributions of so many,” said Jones.