PATERSON, NJ- Nearly 200 residents and community leaders turned out to JFK High School Tuesday evening to recognize Mother Language Day, established by the United Nations that promotes cultural diversity by encouraging people to use their “mother” or native language while learning and speaking others as well.
For the Bangladeshi community, estimated to be approximately 16,000 strong, the day takes on special meaning as it also commemorates the tragic events of February 21, 1952 when four students at the University of Dhaka in Pakistan were murdered by soldiers during a protest held to protect their right to speak Bengali.
Expressing her pride in “being a friend to the Bengali community,” Councilwoman Maritza Davila attended the event on Tuesday along with several of her council colleagues. The monument, she suggested, is a reflection of Paterson’s diversity and furthers her belief that “every community should have something to say they’re proud of their heritage.”
The event was organized by several members of the Bangladeshi community, including 2nd Ward Councilman Shahin Khalique who told TAPinto Paterson that the event showcased “the best of our community and history.” Saying it was “amazing to see the variety of people” that turned out at the event he went on to thank all of the county and city officials that helped build the monument that stands in Westside Park, “telling the story of generations of people. A story of freedom and victory.”