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.