In a letter to the editor, President of the Jersey City Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade Committee Tyrone Hodge says that Public School No. 34 should be named after longtime BOE Trustee Marilyn Roman, not President Barack Obama.
African American. Black. Retribution. Those words as much as they freed us from degrading ethnic labels, they are being used by leadership in the Jersey City African American community to promote a self serving personal agenda by pushing the initiative to name the pubic school after President Obama.
Because I am African American, do not assume for a second, I can be sold into this type of group think. I won’t cave to social racial pressure. I believe our ancestors fought to be free from slavery and civil rights.
Recalling the famous civil rights case, Brown vs. Board of Education, African Americans were labeled “separate but equal.. The children were entitled to equal access to education but there was segregation where there was different schools or “coloreds” and “whites” used different facilities.
This case dismantled the concept of separate but equal.
I am not separate but equal. First, I am a person who will proudly stand for individualism and equality that Americans died for during the civil rights movement.
Second or Third, I am labeled African American because of my skin color. The color of my skin does not define me nor will it be used to segregate me, it is who I am.
I will not support naming the Jersey City Public School after President Obama simply because he is African American. I will not support naming the school after Marilyn Roman because she is Caucasian. I will support naming the school after a woman who has worked tirelessly for every single child in Jersey City.
Marilyn Roman dedicates her life to children and education. She has left a major impact in Jersey City. She is has influenced my family personally and left a positive impact that will carry on generations.
Now I challenge my fellow African American leadership to stop segregation within our own community and beyond. It’s time to start building alliances for positive social change.
I challenge the African American leadership to focus its energy on tougher gun legislation, on ensuring a safe passage to school, on combating the high unemployment rate and on reducing the dropout rate.
Tyrone Hodge, President of The Jersey City MLK Parade Committee