City of Trenton Celebrates 80th Anniversary of Hedgepeth-Williams Decision

City of Trenton Celebrates 80th Anniversary of Hedgepeth-Williams Decision

On Wednesday, February 28th, community leaders, advocates, and relatives of the Hedgepeth-Williams families gathered at Hedgepeth-Williams Intermediate School for the 80th anniversary of this landmark court decision. As a result of the Hedgepeth-Williams ruling, both here in New Jersey and later all throughout the nation, students from all backgrounds could attend their local educational institutions regardless of race. In addition to dismantling discriminatory practices here in Trenton, this case ruling was also used as precedent for the famous Brown vs. the Board of Education case, which banned segregation in schools across America. A magical morning with a million reasons to celebrate, the unveiling of a new historic marker signaled Trenton’s dedication to sharing this story with the generations.

Prior to the unveiling, guests had the opportunity to hear from a distinguished panel of speakers regarding the significance of the days events. Featured speakers included Principal of Hedgepeth-Williams Intermediate School, Adrienne Hill, Superintendent of the Trenton Public School District, James Earle, Mayor Reed Gusciora, Lt. Governor Tahesha Way, and relative of Robert Queen, Kelly Tienda. Reflecting upon the gravity of the day’s events, Principal Hill remarked “I do not take this lightly as principal of this school. We tell our students all the time the importance of them being great, because people fought for them to be able to attend this school.”

In his remarks, Superintendent James Earle reiterated this sentiment, noting “I will echo what Ms. Hill said, we don’t take this lightly and if you know the work that we’re doing here, and under my leadership, I take that personally. We will fight for every single space for every single kid to be educated, both in this distract and outside the distract. We want them to be prepared, so our work is just starting.”

While sharing with the crowd, Ms. Tienda emphasized just why this project is such a critical component of keeping the Hedgepeth-Williams legacy alive in the Capital City. She remarked “Over the past eight decades, Trenton has experienced many of the changes that cities all around the country have. It isn’t all bad, and it isn’t all good – it’s simply changed, and will continue to change. But as people die, and as neighborhoods change, the stories remembered and told change too.” Continuing, she noted “This reality hit me, and the idea of permanent marker became so important because we don’t want people to forget. If the promise of this nation is working, then there will always be change. But we don’t want any students who attend Hedgepeth-Williams school or a person who lives in the neighborhood to not know why the school is named what it’s named.”

Mayor Reed Gusciora presenting Hedgepeth-Williams Decision Day proclamation to Principal Adrienne Hill

Mayor Gusciora had some inspiring words to share with the crowd, noting “Eight decades ago, Janet Hedgepeth and Leon Williams, two courageous children from Trenton, dared to challenge the status quo. Equally fierce, their mothers, Gladys Hedgepeth and Berline Williams, two members of the Trenton NAACP, not only stood up for their children and themselves, but for every child, who deserve equal access to education regardless of race. Their bravery, their determination, and their unwavering belief in justice paved the way for a brighter future for generations to come.”

The morning’s remarks closed out with some stirring words courtesy of New Jersey’s Lieutenant Governor, Tahesha Way. Lt. Gov. Way stated, “All of us, no matter who we are, where we live, owe a debt of gratitude to Janet, Leon, and their families for having that courage to pursue justice. We are stronger as a state because these two families fought to make educational access free and fair.”

Lt. Gov. Tahesha Way addressing the crowd

Following this rousing panel of speeches, guests had the opportunity to venture outside, where the grand reveal would be taking place. Welcomed with a thunderous countdown and applause from the crowd, the Hedgepeth-Williams Decision historical marker was officially unveiled. With the placement of this marker, we can assure that Hedgepeth-Williams Intermediate School students, neighbors, and residents from all over Trenton continue to pass down this incredible story for years to come. As we ring in the 80th anniversary of this milestone decision, we owe an immense deal of thanks to the Hedgepeth and Williams families, as well as all those who fought for this story to have a permanent place in the Capital City.

Left to right: Councilwoman Teska Frisby, Director Maria Richardson, Councilwoman Jenna Figueroa-Kettenburg, Superintendent James Earle, Councilwoman Crystal Feliciano, Mayor Reed Gusciora, Councilwoman Jennifer Williams, Councilwoman Jasi Edwards, and Councilwoman Yazminelly Gonzalez

The post City of Trenton Celebrates 80th Anniversary of Hedgepeth-Williams Decision first appeared on TrentonDaily.

Powered by WPeMatico