PATERSON, NJ- City Council President Ruby Cotton led her colleagues in marking the beginning of Black History Month at City Hall on Thursday. In addition to celebrating the grassroots community work of several organizations including the Bronze Heat, Humble Beginnings, Murture Sisters, Paterson Cares and Save the Village, the city also raised the commemorative red, black and green flag, known as the Afro-American Flag, outside of City Hall.

“It’s important that we recognize these community organizations to let them know that they are an important part of our city,” Cotton told TAPinto Paterson. “Each one of them means something special to me, they all have their own unique message, and all are providing services that are dearly needed.

Calling the month a “milestone,” Mayor Jane Williams-Warren, “the girl from Alabama Avenue Projects,” said in recognizing the contributions of the community that in Paterson “we don’t just celebrate black history in February, we celebrate it 365 days a year.“ 

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Prior to the flag raising, those gathered were led in the tradition of pouring libation, a ceremony, Raheem Smallwood said, that allows the community to “acknowledge our African past with our African American present.” Following each of Smallwood’s prayers with a shout of  “harambee,” translated as “let us pull together,” the crowd commemorated their ancestry and paired that with a call for future action to build the community in unity.  

“We are proud of, think it is fitting to celebrate, and are glad to add to be a part of, the contributions of the African American community in Paterson,” said Roshawn Davis, Public Relations Director, Bronze Heat, an organization that represents of Paterson’s African-American firefighters. “Paterson’s diversity is its greatest strength, and something we must all continue to harness to make ours a world class city.”
Also receiving recognition on Thursday were Bronze Shields of Passaic County; The Village and IAMMYSISTER; The New Grandparents Relatives Care Senior/Community Resource Center, Inc.; Jamaica Organization of New Jersey (JON-J); and Growing in Grace Counseling Group.