NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Council members reflected on their experiences with the June 14 Unity Race Day Event at the Monday, June 22 Zoom meeting, while members of the community expressed their wish to continue the unity dialogue. The virtual event was organized by the Diversity Committee and this year was the second time for the Race Unity Day recognition in New Providence.
It was great to have a good discussion on a very important topic facing our country today, Councilman Matthew Cumiskey[RI1] said. He thanked the Diversity Committee, Mayor Al Morgan, Police Chief Theresa Gazaway and Chairman Sunil Abrol as well as all those who came out to share their experiences, especially borough resident Nikisha Hidalgo, who answered questions from the participants.
June 14 was a very big day for the Diversity Committee, Councilwoman Nadine Geoffroy said. “I learned so much that day from all the speakers that were there, and I just want to also thank Sunil and Leslie (Hill) for bringing this to our community,” she said. She reflected the online experience that started with a song and a prayer and continued with “so many touching and moving stories,” not only on a national level but stories from New Providence residents. She especially thanked Hidalgo for her bravery and sharing her stories with the community. “I was so moved by everybody speaking and sharing their stories and blessed to attend,” she said.
Geoffroy explained that later that night she attended the Centennial Park Gazebo phone light vigil for black lives that have been lost. She said she felt heartbroken when she listened to the young speakers recalling their own experiences and incidents, they themselves have witnessed. She said that she was impressed by the young speakers and their ability to teach the borough residents of New Providence. The vigil was followed by an 8 minute 46 second moment of silence.
Sunil Abrol also attended the council meeting and welcomed the positive feedback. He also commended Hill and the Diversity Committee members for organizing the event. He noted that the event was successful because “people of this town supported it.” The committee will continue the race unity dialogue in a respectful and welcoming way, he said and invited the public to attend the committee’s upcoming zoom meeting.
Borough resident Allen Swanson had sent a letter recommending that the council adopt a resolution declaring racism as a public health crisis. During the public comment session he expressed his disappointment that the council did not move forward with his suggestion.