NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The city is in the process of putting up Paul Robeson Boulevard signs and expects to have the project completed by Saturday.
A spokesperson for the mayor's office said the city is putting up 18 signs along the length of the what was formally Commercial Avenue, including the large hanging cross-street signs on Suydam, Sandford, George and Neilson streets.
The city announced in March that it was renaming Commercial Avenue to honor "an important American and member of the New Brunswick community."
Robeson (1898-1976) was widely considered to be a man ahead of his time and lived an accomplished life rich in culture, politics, education and activism, according to the city's website.
He was the third African-American student to enroll at Rutgers, and while there, was a star pupil and athlete that graduated as valedictorian of the Class of 1919. In the years that followed, Robeson went on to achieve great fame in music, acting and culture and was a champion for social justice and a respected figure in contemporary American history.
The proposal for the name change came about as a result of collaboration among community members and local organizations in light of the centennial anniversary of Robeson’s graduation from Rutgers University.
Partners in this project included the Civic League of Greater New Brunswick, the New Brunswick Board of Education, Holy Family Parish, the City of New Brunswick, Rutgers University and Sharon Baptist Church.
All addresses on the affected street, including residences, businesses, houses of worship and nonprofits were sent letters in December 2018 notifying them of the proposal for the change. A public meeting was also held during the second week of January. Another letter will be sent to all affected addresses in the coming weeks with information as to what to expect next.
Superintendent of Schools Aubrey Johnson tweeted last week that Susan Robeson, Paul's granddaughter, visited at least one New Brunswick school. In the tweet, Johnson said that she read to students the book, "Grandpa Stops a War: A Paul Robeson Story."
Also last week, Robeson was honored at the 253rd Rutgers Commencement. The university showed a video that paid tribute to the 100th anniversary of his graduation from Rutgers.