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Never lost in NJ on Jamaica Way

Never lost in NJ on Jamaica Way

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On Saturday, September 4, 2021, the intersection of Veerland Ave/19th Ave Triangle and Amistad Park was unveiled to the world as “Jamaica Way” in Paterson, NJ.

This historic day marks the first-ever street in the United States named after the island of Jamaica.

“It is both fitting that we chose this historic location, the intersection of Veerland Ave and Amistad Park to be named Jamaica Way because it so perfectly fits and illustrates the indomitable spirit of Jamaicans the world over. It speaks to the eloquence of the proposition that yes one person can indeed change the world,” said former Third Ward Councilman William “Bill” McKoy. 

Jamaica is the third-largest island in the Caribbean and, over the years, has faced its fair share of adversaries. Nonetheless, Jamaica and the people of Jamaica have persevered and excelled while leaving memorial marks across the world.

It’s the Jamaica Way

“So what we don’t have snow in Jamaica. No problem, we use a pushcart and develop a bobsled team to compete in the Olympics. That’s the Jamaican way. So we don’t have all the best equipment and facilities. No problem, we give you the fastest man [and women in the world]. That’s the Jamaican way”. 

former Third Ward Councilman William “Bill” McKoy

It is no surprise that Jamaicans who have made Paterson their adopted home have permanently made a mark.

Hence, it is no surprise that Jamaicans have permanently made a mark on one of the greatest cities in the US. Paterson is NJ’s third-largest city and home to countless immigrant families who have relocated to the US in pursuit of the American Dream. Since its founding in 1792, Paterson, the “Silk City”, and the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, played a central role in the development of the US.

Paterson History

During the industrial era, Paterson became a mecca for skilled and unskilled immigrants. As stated on the National Park Service’s website;

“Paterson, New Jersey, holds a unique place in history. It was here, in America’s first planned industrial city, that the Industrial Revolution got a foothold in the New World. Centred around the Great Falls of the Passaic River, Paterson pioneered methods for harnessing water power for industrial use. In Paterson, many of the manufactories that enabled the young United States to become an economic player on the world stage were established and promoted.”1.

Modern-day Paterson continues its pioneering spirit by fostering growth and development within the community. It also continues to serve as a welcoming haven for immigrants from the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and other regions of the world seeking new opportunities.

Since the 1960s, Jamaican immigrants’ infectious smile, work ethic, educational and athletic contributions, unique dancing, spicey foods, etc., have undoubtingly redesigned and further transformed Paterson. The city is a diverse, melting pot of food, music, culture and warm Northeastern hospitality. A Jamaican relocates anywhere in the world; they also bring along the invaluable “Jamaican Way”.

Today’s Celebration

On this day, Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica gathered to eat Jamaican food, dance and celebrate this special occasion.

“I am so very proud […] whenever you hear that Jamaican anthem being played, for me it gives me chills […] I am very proud, extremely proud to be a Jamaican today”

Sharon Lewars, President of the Bergen County Chapter of the Jamaica Organization of New Jersey (“JON-J”). 

Patrons enjoyed celebrations for notable Jamaicans such as Marcus Garvey and Bob Marley. Jamaicans living in Paterson, such as Shelia Maizelin Blythe, a proud Jamaican/Patersonian and restaurant owner, received recognition.

Paterson’s Mayor André Sayegh attended the event. Also in attendance was Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter, 3rd Ward Councilman, Alex Mendez. We saw Consul General of Jamaica New York, Alsion Roach Wilson, and Jamaica Diaspora Northeast USA Representative Dr Karren Dunkley. We also noticed the President of the JON-J State Board, Jazz Clayton-Hunt and other dignitaries.

  1. Information from the National Park Service.

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