PLAINFIELD, NJ - The story of Plainfield is one that is steeped in a rich historical legacy. From momentous battles, and groundbreaking legal decisions that sparked national action on school segregation to birthing a musical movement which would become known as P-funk. Plainfield has been many things, but boring is not one of them.
With ten (10) designated Historic Districts the architecture and grace of our stock of historic homes and buildings in Plainfield bear testimony to a time when Plainfield was the toast of New Jersey and earned its nickname "The Queen City". A time when people came from far and wide to shop in the bustling shopping district and watch a movie at one of the four theaters downtown. Our history gave rise to sites such as the Drake House Museum which was the headquarters of George Washington during the battle of Short Hills and the Friends Meetinghouse which was built in the 18th century.
But Plainfield has raised more than just majestic homes and historic sites; we have nurtured history makers; people who have left an indelible mark on the face of history:
There are athletes such as Milt Campbell who in 1956 became a gold medalist in the Olympic Decathlon. He was the first African American to earn this title. There's Joe Black, the first African American pitcher to win a World Series game and Jeff Torborg, former MLB player, coach and manager, and Vic Washington, NFL player.
George Clinton was working in a Plainfield barber shop when he formed the Parliaments and started the Funkadelic movement which would later be simply called P-Funk. The group went on to be inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame.
On March 2, 1965, Plainfield resident Charles Booker became the plaintiff in a case that would lead to the desegregation of schools in Plainfield, the State of New Jersey and all across America.
Booker vs. The Plainfield Board of Education sought to address the disparity in the level of education in "all-Negro schools" versus that in "all White schools." The petition sought to level the quality of education across all races by integrating the schools.
On June 28, 1965, the Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled in favor of Mr. Booker, and this led directly to the de-segregation of Plainfield schools.
The United States of America put their first man on the moon on July 20, 1969 and they could not have done so without the help of Plainfield's very own "Hidden Figure," Marion Johnson. Marion Johnson worked for Boeing as an Associate Engineer and tested the trajectory that the rockets attached to the aircraft would take. In her own words "we were right 20 times out of 20."
Plainfield is no stranger to national politics. Born in Plainfield was Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor appointed to oversee prosecutions in the Watergate break-in and related criminal activity during the Nixon administration.
Plainfield, though small has been writing its page in our nation's history book and we're not done yet, we are resurging as a city, evolving and recreating ourselves to meet the needs of a generation that is eco-conscious, transit mobile and values the convenience of urban villages.
We have a vibrant, talented community of youth and they are rising to claim their spot in history. I have recently mentioned these outstanding achievers, but they are worth mentioning again.
There is Waldy Arias, a senior at Plainfield High School, who was recently recognized for his success in signing of a National Letter of Intent to attend Campbell University of North Carolina to play NCAA Division I baseball.
We have soulful songbird, Alexis Morrast, a 16-year-old Plainfield Academy for the Arts and Advanced Studies student, who has had the honor of singing with the Jersey Jazz Society at its 45th Anniversary Celebration. Alexis also performed at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem and won.
And there is Malcolm Fields, a local high school student who is a world class fencer ranked 13th in the nation and 3rd in New Jersey. Malcolm will be competing on the international stage in Germany in December.
The Plainfield Academy for the Arts and Advanced Studies (PAAAS) was one of only 3500 High schools who won a bronze ranking and a place in the US News and World Report annual ranking of US high schools in 2016. It was the only one of the three high schools to be ranked.
Plainfield is a place filled with fascinating history and interesting historical edifices and people but I am thrilled to be living here in a time when we are able to create historical firsts of our own. I am excited by the story we are making; the of renaissance, of tenacity and triumph. I am proud to see our young people fulfilling their potential and recognizing that there is no limit to how high they can fly. My hope is that when the history of Plainfield is written about our time, today, right now it will reflect moments that changed lives for the better.
Creating One Plainfield, One Future...