City of Trenton to Commemorate Hedgepeth-Williams Case

City of Trenton to Commemorate Hedgepeth-Williams Case

80 years ago, Trenton was the center of one of the United States’ most consequential court cases. In the Hedgepeth-Williams case, the right to a fair and equitable education was on trial. Thanks to the bravery and commitment of these Trenton residents, students were able to transcend barriers to education, first in New Jersey, and eventually, throughout the nation. From the dawn of our nation to the present day, there is no doubt that history happens right here in the Capital City. To celebrate those Trenton residents who paved the way for a more equitable education for all, the City of Trenton invites you to celebrate at the unveiling of the community’s latest historic marker.

On Wednesday, February 28th, the City of Trenton will be hosting the unveiling of a Historic Marker which will commemorate the Hedgepeth-Williams desegregation case. The ceremony will begin at 11am at the Hedgepeth-Williams Intermediate School, located at 301 Gladstone Ave, Trenton, NJ 08629. At the ceremony, guests will have the opportunity to hear from a number of distinguished guests, including Principal Adrienne Hill, Superintendent of Trenton Public Schools James Earle, Mayor Reed Gusciora, Lt. Governor Tahesha Way, and family representative Kandar Taylor. This morning is certain to be a stirring occasion for all, inspiring Trentonians young and old to follow in the footsteps of these valiant individuals.

In 1944, the case of Hedgepeth and Williams vs. the Trenton Board of Education was brought before the New Jersey Supreme Court. After graduating the sixth grade, two Trenton students, Janet Hedgepeth and Leon Williams were schedule to attend the New Lincoln school, which was over two miles away from their home. In contrast, however, Junior High No. 2, a predominantly white institution, was located just three blocks from their residences. After the Trenton Board of Education barred access to this school, the mothers of these students, Ms. Hedgepeth and Ms. Williams, sought to dispute this injustice in court.

When taking their case to court, they enlisted the help of attorney Robert Queen, who was a member of the Trenton NAACP. When this case was brought before the Trenton District Court, it was ultimately dismissed. However, Ms. Hedgepeth and Ms. Williams would not stand for this grave injustice. Together, they decided to appeal the case to the New Jersey Supreme Court, which ultimately ruled that this practice was unlawful. 10 years later, in 1954, this case would be used as precedent for Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, wherein the United States Supreme Court ruled that school integration was the law of the land, citing that segregation was a violation of the 14th amendment.

As a city and as a nation, we all owe a great deal of appreciate to Ms. Hedgepeth, Ms. Williams, Mr. Queen, and all those who fought to make this landmark case possible. In commemorating this historic moment with a marker, we are not just honoring the legacy of these fine individuals – we are now assuring that for generations to come, Trentonians will have the opportunity to reflect on and appreciate this momentous moment in our community’s history. Don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate and connect with fellow residents of your city, be sure to swing by!

Historic Happenings: The Hedgepeth-Williams Case - TrentonDaily

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