In This Issue:

Broadway Photo Camp

A Weekend of Joy

Feature Article

Poem

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A Weekend of Joy in Princeton

 

“Gettin’ Back to the Get Back!”

 

By Shirley Satterfield

 

In 1996, over 100 Witherspoon-Jackson residents gathered for a reunion of all who were students at the Witherspoon School for Colored Children, located on Quarry Street. Not since that reunion has there been such a weekend of joy, bringing together family and friends of this historic community!

 

Now, 28 years since that school reunion, the first “Family and Friends Reunion” again brought joy to generations of the Witherspoon-Jackson Community during this summer’s July 4th weekend. This gathering was the brainchild of 1980’s Princeton High School graduates who planned and prepared an evening to meet, greet, eat and reunite, a day-long picnic where hugs, smiles, music, remembrances, and joy were shared with family and friends who came from far and wide. A Sunday service was the time to worship with members of First Baptist Church of Princeton. After the worship service many gathered to hear about and participate in the history of African Americans in Princeton. What a time for all to share in the history and to join in with stories and remembrances of their families and growing up in Princeton.

 

Shirley Satterfield: Why did you want to start the Family and Friends Reunion?
Paige Walden: Well, quite honestly, the idea was birthed by Mike Riddick also a former Princeton resident. Collectively, we were tired of only seeing one another during a close family or friend’s funeral and needed to find a way to gather outside of the norm. Thus, the reason for this idea came about. Mike Riddick reached out to several of his Princeton Friends on Facebook to see who would like to be a part of organizing an event to bring us all together in love, joy, and reconnecting. Those who answered the call became a part of what is now known as the Princeton Family and Friends (PFF) Committee. This is where it all began!

 

Shirley Satterfield: How did you form your committee?
Paige Walden: We began by scheduling an initial meeting with those who answered the charge to understand the vision. We decided immediately that we needed the support of community members who were already putting the boots to the ground like, yourself, Leighton Newlin, Dean Boyer, Lance Liverman and Greg Smith. We wanted to be certain to do this thing right, but asking for guidance from those who knew best.

 

Shirley Satterfield: What events were planned for the first-weekend event?
Paige Walden: This event immediately grew from a one-day cookout to a full weekend of activities!
Friday evening was the Meet and Greet at the Aaron Lodge #9.
Saturday was a picnic at the Tidal Basin Park on Alexander Road in Princeton.
Sunday included fellowshipping together at First Baptist Church, Princeton, followed by a phenomenal presentation of the Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society’s Walking Tour led by yourself, Ms. Shirley Satterfield. Those in attendance at the Walking Tour presentation were amazed at the history shared. Ms. Satterfield, our hearts go out to you for taking the stand to research and educate others on our W-J Black History!

 

 

Shirley Satterfield: What is some of the feedback that you received from the participants?
Paige Walden: The feedback received from others is that we can’t stop here. This gathering of the community must continue year after year, bringing even more family and friends together. A framework for doing just that is currently being initiated.

 

Shirley Satterfield: I know many of those who came to the picnic talked about old times and just had a wonderful time. Please give some reactions or talk about growing up in Princeton and reuniting with family and friends.
Paige Walden: As you know the reactions towards growing up in Princeton are those of safety, love, and togetherness. Although some who grew up here may recall some of the more tumultuous times, those discomforts were gradually healed with opportunities and the ability to reflect on how our people made our community into a special place. Our grandparents, parents, and all in the community used their bare hands, intellect, and professional work ethic to be certain that in the future we as a community would have something that we could call our own: a community that we could be most proud of, a place called home. Now the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood has become the 20th Historic District of Princeton. Quite an accomplishment, I must say!

 

Shirley Satterfield: What did you find to be the most important and most outstanding aspect of the Family and Friends reunion weekend?
Paige Walden: The most important was to bring the community together. Family and friends attended from near and far. I know those who were unable to attend our inaugural gathering are truly looking forward to future outings to come. The most outstanding aspects of the weekend were the stories told, the memories shared, and the hope for what’s to come.

 

Shirley Satterfield: As Colored, Negro, Black, and African American residents who lived in Princeton for centuries why was this wonderful reunion such an important event in our town?
Paige Walden: This reunion was important to so many because it gives one something to look forward to, and something that will keep us together as a community. It keeps us connected and interested in the value of our community. If you don’t know then you have no interest; however, by gathering from year to year and showing that there are others who care about our people’s investments will motivate others who may have otherwise just not known to also be motivated to keep this going. Not just the Princeton Family and Friends Reunion but also the Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society’s dreams and aspirations, as well!

 

Shirley Satterfield: Is this an event that you wish to continue during a weekend in the summer?
Paige Walden: This can be identified as an event, but I would like to identify it as a community gathering. A community gathering is defined as a social event that socializes a particular community and its inhabitants; allowing our community to come together and bond. The Princeton Family and Friends (PFF) Committee definitely plans to continue this effort year after year. Our plan is to meet with additional sponsors and community activist who find interest in our vision, so we can plan to expand our ideas year after year.

 

To Sydni Craig, DeAndrea Hall, Gina Jackson, Derek Martin, Michael Riddick, Ashante Thompson, Paige Walden: PFF Committee. Moriah Akrong Dean Boyer, Lance Liverman, Leighton Newlin, Rev. Gregory Smith: PFF Subcommittee. Thank you for “Gettin’ Back”!

 

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Community Calendar

WJHCS Trustees Recent Accomplishments and Honors:

 

Honoree: Leighton Newlin

Date: January 5, 2022

Elected: Princeton Councilmember

 

Honoree: Rev. Gregory Smith

Award: Ordination and Installation as Pastor

Date: November 20, 2021

Awarded By: Second Calvary Baptist Church, Hopewell, NJ

 

 

Honoree: Shirley Satterfield

Award: Community Engagement Award

Date: November 17, 2021

Awarded By: Princeton University and Pace Center for Civic Engagement

 

Honoree: Shirley A. Satterfield

Award: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award

Date: January 16, 2021

Awarded By: New Jersey Education Association (NJEA)

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