ORANGE, NJ — Shifting the landscape of what it means to reach higher within many communities across the nation, Black Lives Matter murals are popping up everywhere. Joining communities that have painted the mural on streets to symbolize that black lives do indeed matter, Orange has unveiled its Black Lives Matter mural to the public. Painted on Main Street on Aug. 8, the mural has been receiving rave reviews.
Orange Democratic Committee member William Hathaway was thrilled about the mural’s creation.
“The city of Orange made history on Saturday doing the Black Lives Matter event,” Hathaway said Aug. 10. “It was a great and historical event. I want to thank everyone who supported the event. This mural is a clear message in what is happening across the United States. I’d like to give thanks to Councilmembers Wooten and Summers-Johnson and former Councilmember Donna K. Williams.”
The mural’s unveiling influenced many, including educators who came together with Orange students to participate.
“Not only is this a protest against police brutality but it is against the 400 years of oppression and systematic discrimination,” Orange Board of Education member Jeffrey Wingfield said Aug. 8.
Equally moved by the show of unity in the community, Mayor Dwayne Warren described what this day means to him.
“We’re painting ‘Black Lives Matter,’ that is a symbol of work and the action items that we are doing already, from fighting for equality with mortgage companies to stop the red line to make sure we get the best values for our properties; the educational equity that we need; making sure that our children can access college; having legal seminars, seminars regarding financing, higher education,” Warren said during the event on Aug. 8. “All those things we do on a regular basis are action items.
“When you see Black Lives Matter, you ought to think about what actions they are taking,” he continued. “In Orange, we’re doing it every day, all day, from economics to education to social justice to making sure that our seniors get the medical help they need. Across the board, we’re taking action every day that would justify the symbol that we’re putting here on Main Street that black lives do matter.”
Councilwoman Adrienne Wooten echoed her address from her recent inauguration.
“The United States Constitution, the primary guiding document on which our nation was founded, begins with ‘We the People,’” Wooten said on Aug. 10. “What an eloquently inclusive statement, ‘We the People.’ But, when the document was drafted and signed on the 17th of September 1787, the idea of me, a sharecropper’s daughter born and raised in North Carolina, was not included in that ‘We.’ Today, as we paint ‘Black Lives Matter’ on Main Street in the city of Orange Township, I can’t help but think that the Black Lives Matter movement will be in our history books alongside the many constitutional amendments, civil rights laws and landmark court decisions.
“We in the city of Orange Township will be one of many places who stood in solidarity of the movement,” she continued. “‘We the People.’ We have come a long way and we have a long way to go.”
“On behalf of the Orange Fire Department Local 210 Fire Officers Union, we were honored to have taken part in a historic moment in Orange,” union President Nelson Rivera said. “Our department is composed of members from all different backgrounds. We are a family of different ethnicities and religions. We have different political affiliations, different ideas and opinions. Through our diversity we have grown to accept our differences and understand that we can work together, build strong friendships and love each other. BLM is about inclusion, and equality. BLM is the voice for so many who have fallen and can no longer speak. Without justice for all, and equal treatment across the board, our country will never come to learn of the good when all come together. We are lucky to have that sense of community at the Orange Fire Department and for that reason we are proud to take steps in making necessary change. BLM is a necessity.”
Gratified by the symbolism of the mural, Orange resident Fatimah Turner gave her testimony.
“This night is important to me,” Turner said during the event on Aug. 8. “One, because everyone who knows me knows that I lost my sister to police violence and my sister died in police custody, so black lives matter and police brutality is very important to me. But also, I think that black lives should matter in all aspects of our lives, not just as it pertains to police. I think it should matter as it pertains to education. I think that it should matter as it pertains to social economics, health and mental health.
“I think that we need to look at all intersections of black lives in order to make sure that we are reaching higher attainment, higher education and upward mobility, and I think that Orange is doing a very good job making that happen,” Turner continued. “So, I’m very proud to represent my city, my town here today and this black lives matter initiative.”
Photos Courtesy of Adrienne Wooten