PATERSON, NJ - Through achievements in education, the successful launch of dozens of businesses, participation in the highest levels of local government, and even exploits on the playing field, the impact of the Bangladeshi community is felt in nearly every aspect of daily life , not just in the city’s Second Ward but across Paterson.
On Saturday, that impact was memorialized in perpetuity with the renaming of a two block stretch of the busy Union Avenue to Bangladesh Boulevard.
With hundreds gathered on Wayne Avenue, Councilman Shahin Khalique led what many would call an “historic day,” one that the city’s highest Bangladeshi official referred to as “an honor to decades of contribution,” to their adopted home, thousands of miles away from their ancestral homeland.
Praising the community’s “respected elders”, Khalique said that their older generations of leaders came to Paterson “with a wisdom and belief their children deserved a better future.”
“They came with courage and passion and built a pathway for others,” he said.
Offering a litany of Paterson residents who have become part of his Administration, including Ferdous Hussain and Imran Hsn, serving respectively as deputy mayor and a commissioner of the newly formed Friends of Paterson Parks, Sayegh said that “Paterson is a better community because Bengali’s call Paterson home.”
“You are a major part of the fabric of Paterson,” Sayegh added, introducing local business Azi Alam, owner of Silk City Platters, for the first time as his appointee to the New Jersey State Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) Authority.
Following comments from Passaic County Sheriff Richard H. Berdnik and Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter, both of whom offered their appreciation for the support of the community, Paterson Board of Education President Oshin Castillo referenced the recent kickoff off the BASL season, a sports league that currently caters to the athletic needs of the Bangladeshi community.
What she saw, Castillo said, were “elders supporting the young, a community of unity.”
“Thank you,” share added, “for making us a part of your family.”
Likening the street naming to other designations Paterson has made such as Colombian Corridor and Peru Square, Davila, who said she was proud to co-sponsor the resolution spearheaded by Khalique, added that the opportunity to recognize the community’s contributions was one she “couldn’t pass up.”
“It shows that we welcome all, we embrace all countries,” Davila, who said that she has been proud to be invovled with the growing community since before she was a member of the city’s legislative body, responded when asked what the street naming says about the City of Paterson.
“This is what Paterson is about,” she concluded. “We are one and we are better together.”
With the speeches over the swelling crowd made their way to the other end of the block, many chanting support of their homeland, where Khalique and his council colleagues present, as well as Sayegh, were hoisted to the recently placed sign for the officials unveiling.
“I’ve grown up in Paterson, been here for 30 years,” community activist Mosleh Uddin said, keeping visible emotions in check. “This is an honor for all of us, a day to be proud. It shows that we, too, are Paterson.”
The celebratory mood continued well into the night with more than 2000 residents and visitors gathering on Wayne Avenue for a festival that included vendors selling traditional Bangladeshi clothing, jewelry, and food, and several bands and dance groups, some traveling to Paterson for the event.
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