As someone born, raised, and lived most of my life in Edison, NJ, I was humbled yet so proud of my hometown as I celebrated Juneteenth for the first time on my home turf. In the past, various work, travel, and other commitments prevented me from celebrating Juneteenth in Edison. However, that was not the case this year! 

With plenty of food, music, games, vendors, and a diverse and colorful mix of good people, I expected only to spend an hour or so at the daylong event; however, I spent the entire afternoon and even returned later that evening for the fireworks display. 

Highlights of the day included an informal meet and chat with Edison Mayor Sam Joshi, and some members of the Edison Council. I also ran into one of my high school classmates, Steve Nagel. He is and has been an integral and vocal member in the Edison community for years and is currently the Acting Chair of the Human Relations Council. As a journalist, my former classmate is my go-to source whenever I need accurate information or details for any article I write about anyone or anything related to Edison–or the state of New Jersey! (Go Edison High School Class of 1980!!)

As I sat, watched, and listened to the Juneteenth festivities, I was reminded about some of the wonderful people and things about Edison—a place that has been a fixture for the Townes family for nearly 60 years. Contrarily, I also recall some unpleasant experiences I had as a boy, teen, and young man as one of only a handful of students of color in the Edison school system in the 1970s and 1980s. Stories about racist and bigoted classmates, their parents, teachers, and co-workers remain painful memories.

To that end, as a reporter that has covered and written extensively about New Jersey for the past 20 plus years, I recently received an e-mail from a disgruntled reader of my columns. The reader sharply criticized me for discussing a recent report that labeled the city of Trenton as one of the most racist and bigoted places in New Jersey. The reader clearly missed the point of the commentary and instead, argued that the township of Edison is racist. (See excerpt below) 

She wrote, “I live in Trenton born and raised here. I am black, I have a college education and I own a home. I DO NOT know where you got your statics from but I do know that you can make statics say whatever you want them to say. I learned this in my statics class. I also want to tell you that I am not an anomaly; I know many like me. I would also like to say I worked in Edison, NJ for a while and I know that the people who live there are extremely racist.” 

I dismissed the note as nonsense and gibberish from an uninformed and obtuse reader. In the recent past and especially today, I am incredibly proud of my hometown of Edison and its people as I celebrate Juneteenth with an eclectic mix of people coming together. Cheers, and Happy Juneteenth!

I'm an award winning journalist based in Edison, NJ. My work has been featured in dozens of publications including, Black Enterprise magazine; ESSENCE magazine and Real Health magazine. I am also a featured...

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