Heritage Newark

We Are Still Here

As I continue to work on my book about the Italian communities of Newark that will be published this fall, I continue to receive many positive comments and well-wishes. I do, on occasion, receive some comments that are, well, let’s just say interesting.

When people ask me how it is going, I usually have a response similar to “I’m excited and terrified at the same time.” What has been most important to me from the very beginning is that I want to make sure I do justice to the members of the community. So when I am reminded with a comment like “there haven’t been any Italians here in a long time,” I need to pick my words very carefully for my response.

Street sign of 7th Avenue and Cutler Street in the Old First Ward of Newark, NJ
Street sign of 7th Avenue and Cutler Street in the Old First Ward of Newark, NJ

We may not be a large community or ethnicity in Newark anymore, but it is important to remember, that wasn’t by our choice. At one point, Newark was home to the fifth largest Italian immigrant community in the country. Then came “urban renewal,” eminent domain, and a variety of other “improvement projects.” The so-called “white flight” was really more of an evection.”

There is still some proof we were once a huge community. We still have Our Lady of Mount Carmel. We still have St. Lucy’s. We still have the Italian American Apostolate of the Newark Archdiocese.

So yes, we are still here. We are still a strong and proud community. And no, we aren’t going anywhere.

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