Street signs unveiled for newly renamed ‘Paul Robeson Boulevard’

Eighteen signs are now in place in New Brunswick, N.J. bearing “Paul Robeson Blvd.” replacing what used to be Commercial Avenue. The signs were recently installed in honor of the late African-American singer, actor and activist.

The renaming is part of the yearlong celebration commemorating the 100th anniversary of Robeson’s graduation from Rutgers University in 1919. He attended the school on an academic scholarship becoming the university’s third African-American student. Robeson was a star scholar with a consistently high grade-point average.

C. Roy Epps, president and CEO of the Civic League of Greater New Brunswick and a member of Rutgers’ Robeson Centennial Committee, led the initiative to rename Commercial Avenue in Robeson’s honor.

New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahil and Paul Robeson Community School for the Arts Principal Dr. Aubrey Johnson were on-hand at the dedication ceremony when the street signs were unveiled. Officials from Rutgers University also attended.

Cahill led the ceremony at the corner of Baldwin Street and Robeson Boulevard near the entrance to Feaster Park, where the city plans to install a sculpture of Robeson.

“We celebrate the 100th anniversary of Robeson’s graduation from Rutgers, but we need to be mindful of the obstacles he overcame to become the third African-American student to graduate from Rutgers,” Cahill said, adding that Robeson’s work to “shape the world for the better … stemmed directly from his education” at the university.

The Poetry of Langston Hughes

Poet and Playwright Langston Hughes was a prominent member of the 1920’s Harlem Renaissance. Often incorporating jazz and black folk rhythms, his writing on the African-American experience earned him the unofficial title Poet Laureate of Harlem.

Disillusioned with the NAACP, Hughes like many African-Americans of the time turned to the Communist Party, because of its militant stance fighting for civil rights and against poverty, racism, lynching, and unemployment. In fact, no ethnic group joined the CP more and opened more local branches during this time than African-Americans.

Poetry of Langston Hughes

One More "S" in the U.S.A by Langston Hughes
Put one more s in the U.S.A. To make it Soviet. One more s in the U.S.A. Oh, we'll live to see it yet. When the land belongs to the farmers and the factories to the working men — The U.S.A. when we take control Will be the U.S.S.A. then.

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.