Black Love in Princeton
John and Florence Broadway
By Rev. Gregory S. Smith
Over the next few segments of our newsletter, we will be focusing on Black Love in Princeton’s Witherspoon-Jackson Community. We will be featuring marriages in various stages of their journey, beginning with 60 years, 40 years and 25 years of marriage.
Princeton has historically been filled with many successful relationships. We recently lost Ralph Stevens, who had been married for over 73 years to his wife Dorothy. I dedicate this featured segment to them.
Like most partnerships, many of these marriages experienced great levels of happiness but also endured significant challenges. However, the perseverance of these married individuals has allowed them to overcome amazing odds. I think this is indicative of the resiliency that the Witherspoon-Jackson community itself has exemplified over the years.
Our first featured marriage is a couple that has been married for 61 years. John and Florence Broadway are an incredible example on many levels of the virtues of choosing to remain committed in marriage. The following is a glimpse of their story.
When I began thinking about the subject of Black Love and Princeton, I initially thought of this around Valentine’s Day and wanted to find a way to illustrate the beauty of romantic love. However, what I found in this story was an even greater beauty exemplified in the commitments we make to one another. John and Florence Broadway represent an authentic love that has stretched over six decades. Like many romances, it began with a strong passion, but what has made it even more meaningful is the resolve to remain devoted, weathering both good and challenging times.
John Broadway met Florence Harris when she was a teenage girl who lived two blocks away on Birch Avenue. Florence jokes that her initial interest in John was the opportunity for transportation to Princeton High School in his 1956 white Lincoln. Love blossomed and Florence eventually graduated from Princeton High in 1961 and attended Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC. During the summer of 1962 she discovered that she was pregnant and opted to return home and marry John. Together, they worked hard to raise two sons.
John, who was a self-employed barber, received an invitation through a mentor to work for Pepsi Cola as a driver. The money was good, but the hours were long. Much of the childrearing responsibility fell on Florence and, although they worked together as much as possible, life in those days had its challenges. Florence spoke very candidly about being a young woman and having to make the decision to remain in a relationship despite having concerns about her family’s future. There were times she even contemplated leaving, but returning to her parents’ home was not an option. She recognized that there weren’t many opportunities for a young black mother with two sons. It was then that she came to understand the reality that love was less of a feeling and more of a choice.
John’s desire since childhood was to have financial independence through entrepreneurship. He recalled how challenging it was watching his mother raise eight children working as a domestic and how he wanted a better life for her, himself and his family. The discipline of saving and investing was not easy, but his hard work and determination ultimately paid off for John and Florence. They built a home on Princeton Pike which became the beating heart of the Broadway family. John worked multiple jobs while developing his own landscaping and salvage businesses, which allowed them to offer a private school education to their sons and see them both successfully through college. Florence worked as a Software Customer Support Supervisor at Datacolor for 36 years. During her years at Datacolor she earned a Batchelor Degree from Thomas Edison State University, became a licensed Massage Therapist and a Licensed Real Estate Agent. Together, their generosity with their time, talent and resources have helped countless relatives and friends achieve their own goals and dreams.
More than sixty years later, they’ve now been blessed to enjoy good health and are in a position to do whatever they desire in life. Last year they spent their 60th wedding anniversary in Hawaii, and Florence participated in a tour of central Asia with friends. Their hard work, and their choice to remain devoted to each other, has allowed them to enjoy the fruits of their labor as well as to share their wealth of wisdom and advice with others.
We salute John and Florence Broadway as our first featured role models in our “Black Love in Princeton” series.
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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)