OLD BRIDGE – A local Mosaic Society group held two successful Black History programs in February.
The events were held on Feb. 9 and 16 at the Old Bridge Public Library. June Dungee, a former councilwoman and founder and organizer of the society, welcomed everyone and was encouraged at the outpouring of support from Old Bridge and surrounding diverse communities.
Keynote speaker, Keith Jones, first chief of staff for the City of New Brunswick, stressed the importance of the 2020 Census, voting in the 2020 election and for older generations to mentor, train and work together, passing along the torch to the younger and future generations.
Other local speakers included Anna Wilkins Daily, educator in Perth Amboy, and Ogla Licin-Lescat, of Old Bridge.
Daily presented a history lesson on Thomas Mundy Peterson, of Perth Amboy, who was the first African-American to vote in an election under the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution cast on March 31, 1870.
Licin-Lescat, a Haitian advocate, promoted the importance of all cultures uniting together. She said many black people died fighting for their rights, but also many white people died too that participated in the civil rights movement.
Dungee expressed appreciation for Governor Phil Murphy’s proclamation and Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver for her letter of support and recognition for their Black History programs.
State Sen. Samuel Thompson (R-Middlesex), Mayor Owen Henry, Old Bridge Council President Mary Sohor and Ward 6 Councilman John Murphy attended and heard about past and present contributions made by different cultures of African descent.
Africans were brought to the country under duress from their homeland and dropped off at various locations before finally arriving in America, Dungee said. Many attendees including Jean Armstrong, along with other members at Silver Linings of Old Bridge senior center, shared their own testimonials and childhood experiences growing up in society.
Armstrong proudly showed a picture of retired New York Yankee Reggie Jackson taken with her son and also shared how she saved her money – with earnings of 65 cents an hour – to go see Jackie Robinson, the first black player to play in the American League with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
During the event Diane Parker, a talented local actress, singer and director, performed as Fannie Lou Hamer, an American voting and women’s rights activist and community organizer.
The Mosaic Society Group embraces the diversity in mosaic cultures with the theme “Facing the Future in a Growing, Diverse, Mosaic Society.”
Along with the speakers and performances, attendees also enjoyed delicious ethnic foods prepared by its members.