NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - In a year of commemoration for Rutgers University alumnus and activist Paul Robeson, New Brunswick will add to that list with the renaming of Commercial Avenue to Paul Robeson Boulevard.
The nearly mile-long thoroughfare stretches from Route 18 south to Elmwood Cemetery. On the northern end, it crosses George Street, the intersection where the Rutgers University Police Department and Department of Public Safety sits, one block from Route 18.
The street also crosses Suydam Street, in front of the Sacred Heart Church, and passes along the east side of Feaster Park.
City council members last week introduced an ordinance for the name change.
New Brunswick is working with the state to change signs on Route 18 to reflect the name change. It's also working with Middlesex County as a section of the street is part of Route 171.
Robeson was a social activist, singer, scholar, actor, All-American athlete, lawyer, humanist and advocate for international peace.
He graduated from Rutgers at the top of his class in 1919.
Last September, the university began construction of Paul Robeson Plaza at Voorhees Mall, just off College Avenue in New Brunswick. The Plaza is slated for completion this spring and the dedication will be part of the year-long series of events marking the 100th anniversary of Robeson's graduation.
The city this year is renovating Feaster Park, and the plans to include the creation of a Robeson Plaza in one corner of the lot near Handy Street. A statue of Robeson will stand in the plaza.
Last September the city re-opened Paul Robeson Community School for the Arts, which had been closed for two years for renovation and expansion.
City council members will take a final vote on the ordinance to change the name on March 6.