Professor explains Afrocentric meaning of color green in mayor’s name

Photo by Chris Sykes
East Orange Mayor Ted Green, wearing yellow, gives some of his youngest constituents a tour of City Hall on Saturday, Nov. 3, during the Clean Team Initiative citywide Community Cleanup. The city provided participants with free rakes, brooms, trash bags and other items to use. Green’s name was the subject of lively debate at City Council’s reorganization meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 1.

EAST ORANGE, NJ — Professor Akil Khalfani of the Essex County College Africana Institute gave his perspective on East Orange Mayor Ted Green’s last name and just what that means for his city and constituents’ prospects in 2019 and beyond.

This topic was discussed Tuesday, Jan. 1, during the East Orange City Council’s annual Reorganization Meeting, in the Council Chambers inside City Hall, where Assemblyman Tom Giblin, former East Orange Senior Services Department Director Catherine Willis, Imam Abdul Aziz of Masjid Ashabul Yameen and Recreation Department employee Kaleena Koon were present. Giblin, who is Irish, said green symbolizes luck, so having Mayor Green in charge is lucky for East Orange.

Willis, a longtime resident, said she is happy about the direction the city has been taken by Green and agreed that East Orange is “lucky” to have him as mayor.

“The Irish do the shamrock that’s green and I certainly agree that the city of East Orange is blessed to have Mayor Green,” said Willis on Tuesday, Jan. 1.

Aziz said the color green has a special meaning in Islam because it symbolizes “love and hope.” Koon said green is also a “festive” color and that is appropriate because it’s always a party when the Mayor comes through.”

“He makes it fun,” said Koon on Tuesday, Jan. 1. “He gets the job done and he just makes it a nice place to work.”

Khalfani has now added his take on the mayor and the power of green.

“It’s not just luck. Green is for “Ogun,” which is power. Ogun in the Yoruba tradition is green and black, and so then we take that power and utilize that power for all that it means and we use that as a basis, because it takes power to bring about transformation,” said Khalfani on Tuesday, Jan. 1. “It doesn’t just take luck. Luck is important, but luck doesn’t push anything through the door. Luck can open a door, but you have to have power to get through the door.”

As mayor, Green has the power to exercise what Khalfani said it takes to implement real, reforms that can transform the local community for the better.

Green said it was appropriate for the council’s annual Reorganization Meeting to coincide with the culmination of the first citywide Kwanzaa Celebration on the final day of “Imani,” which means “faith,” during the holiday that uses green and red candles in a traditional Kinara.

“May God continue to bless all of you,” said Green on Tuesday, Jan. 1. “Let’s continue to love each other, embrace each other, care for each other and motivate each other.”