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By Dhiren Shah and William Hathaway
The City of Newark has a lot of history, and the pride of the city was showcased this past Sunday with the 52nd Anniversary of the legendary African American Heritage Statewide Parade.
The event kicked off on the newly christened Mayor Kenneth A. Gibson Blvd., named after the city’s first black mayor. In the City Hall Rotunda, there was a breakfast/brunch, thanking the sponsors of this year’s event, and a brief ceremony hosted by the African American Heritage Parades Organization (AAHPO) along with city officials.
There was a brief prayer and pre-parade ceremony held in front of the grandstand. AAHPO President Charles N. Hall Jr. and Vice President Curtia Orr co-hosted this year. Also, there were a reading from the Holy Quran, call of the drums, and the Black National Anthem before the march down the former Broad Street.
One good part about the parade is that it started right at 1 pm on the dot.
Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. served as this year’s Grand Marshal, and was presented a sash by Hall at the start of the parade.
Payne said, “I am humbled to be the Grand Marshal. This is important to our legacy and it’s an honor to be part of this year’s event.”
The were some Newark city council members who attended the event as well. Central Ward councilwoman LaMonica Mclver said this event has been legendary event in Newark. Other groups who attended and marched down Gibson Blvd. were the Malcolm X. Shabazz High School Marching Band and the Orange High School Band. There was even a marching band from Hillside.
Members of the Newark Fire Department and the Newark Police Department Motorcycle unit were on hand. There were floats of legendary African Americans Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Crispus Attacks. Newark’s current mayor Ras J Baraka presented a proclamation to the African American Heritage committee.
This year, about 5,500 to 6,000 spectators and participants were there to enjoy the parade, which is growing. Also, on Friday and Saturday the community enjoyed the festival celebration for a three-day event in all.
The event also featured some Spanish music, and the audience was encourage throughout the African American Heritage Parade.
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