Friday, August 12 was Day 5 of the “Joint-Effort – Princeton Safe Streets week 2016. The Witherspoon-Jackson Community hosted “The Shoulders We Stand On,” a hope and history recognition program, at First Baptist Church Princeton. The events were planned to recognize the Witherspoon-Jackson Community being designated as Princeton’s 20th historic district — and also that the United Nations declared 2015-2024 should be dedicated to the study of peoples of African descent. It was an exciting evening, filled with loving memories.
John Bailey, who returns to Princeton from Denver annually for the Joint Effort Program, was the master of ceremonies, but his plans were often interrupted by people paying very welcome tributes to Bailey himself, for his many accomplishments and especially for his work with youth. First the tributes came from Terrence Phox and Craig Robinson, then from Council President Lance Liverman, who read a proclamation from Mayor Liz Lempert.
Inspiring musical selections were by Adrienne Hill (who sang “Love Lifted Me”), Taneesha Hamilton (“His Eye is on the Sparrow”) and Jawhar Kimbrough (“Be the Change You Want to See.”) The Revelations Praise Dance Ensemble of the First Baptist Church of Princeton offered two beautiful liturgical dance selections, choreographed by Tiana J. Brown-Miller (Faith Brown-Miller, coordinator)
Shirley Satterfield thanked, one by one, the ancestors of Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood
Tracey K. Smith, director of Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program, read from her memoir Ordinary Light on the theme of “The Significance of History, Community, and Family.” “The language of love is the only language with the ability to save us,” she said.
Certificates were given to 48 athletes and 15 teams in honor of three dozen athletes who have passed away. Other certificates were for those int he medical/health/wellness field and for those contributing to fraternal, social, or community service organizations.
The high point of the evening: Floyd Phox received the Paul Robeson Spirit Award, commenting that he couldn’t have attended the segregated Princeton University and is now proud of his grandson, Markus Phox, a senior football player at the university.
In his discussion of ‘The Back Nine of My life,” John Bailey urged, “The Back Nine will be here sooner than you think, so say all the things you want your loved ones to remember. Not what you gather, but what you scatter, will determine what life you lead.” Acknowledging ‘the shoulders we stand on’ he read the long list of Black Family Names, and pretty soon almost everyone was standing. “Go home and look in your bathroom mirror,” he said. “The real hero is you.”