CAMDEN, NJ — A three-block portion of Broadway in Camden will be renamed “Black Lives Matter Blvd” later this year, the City Council indicated during their meeting Tuesday.
Although the resolution was tabled, Councilmember-At-Large Angel Fuentes - who sponsored it - assured it was merely due to logistics being worked out since the thoroughfare is a county road. Once it passes the street, between Cooper and Martin Luther King Dr., it will bear the ceremonial name for approximately six months.
“After what happened to George Floyd and following the peaceful marches in Camden, I reached out to the National Stop the Violence Alliance, and we had constructive conversations about what we could do,” Fuentes told TAPinto Camden over the phone after the Zoom meeting.
The councilman said he then consulted with Council President Curtis Jenkins and others from the city in order to make it possible. Fuentes added he’s been in communication with Freeholder Director Lou Cappelli and imagines the resolution to be on the council agenda in the coming weeks.
Jenkins, who is Black, spoke during the meeting about the city’s efforts to keep the momentum going behind Black Lives Matter — saying he relates with the youth’s sentiments during these tumultuous times.
“I’ve had my share of scares with law enforcement,” he said. “You get law enforcement behind you, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Camden-native Dr. Stephné Coney, founder and chief executive officer of National Stop the Violence Alliance — who attended Floyd’s funeral in Houston — said she “was proud” of her city's decision.
“A lot of people who are my age in the city, they don't believe that the elected officials really care about us and have our best interests at heart," said Minyah Figueroa, a Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy graduate. "So I think having the Black Lives Matter lane is a first step to earning the trust of the citizens."
Sescily Coney, president and director of National Stop The Violence Alliance, emphasized that steps to temporarily rename the street should be a catalyst for other changes.
“Camden still has redlining...and we have to reconcile with that,” Coney said. “I think that this can be the beginning of newness. I [believe] that Camden needs to not waste time, it needs to be done expeditiously.”
Fuentes said he was in agreement — noting that one example could be a reexamination of the curriculum to guarantee that the youth receives a full breadth of history.
Per the council agenda, the resolution would also pay tribute to Black Lives Matter.
“Black Lives Matter has established the crucial goal of reforming police practices and policies concerning the use of force which have led to police brutality against Blacks…,” reads an excerpt.
The next City Council meeting is scheduled for August 11 but Fuentes said a special meeting may be called to pass the amended resolution.