Bengali community filled the streets for the naming ceremony, festival, and a concert that followed into the night to mark the occasion
Paterson Municipal officials, a city of the US state of New Jersey, unveiled street signs on Saturday afternoon naming a portion of Union Avenue to Bangladesh Boulevard in recognition of the city’s growing Bangladeshi-American community, reports Paterson Times.
Bengali community filled the streets for the naming ceremony, festival, and a concert that followed into the night to mark the occasion.
“We feel very proud today. This is a big achievement for the Bangladeshi community,” said Joyed Rohim, a member of the Paterson Board of Adjustment, who helped to organize the huge spectacle that attracted hundreds of people.
An estimated 15,000 Bengalis, mostly hailing from Bangladesh, call the Silk City home, according to community leaders. The number is 25,000 in Passaic County. Immigrants from Bangladesh began to appear in Paterson in the 1970s.
“We take pride in our heritage of being Bangladeshis in the United States,” said Nadia Hussain. “We are very much a part of the diverse and historical fabric of the city. The naming of this street commemorates and acknowledges this fact and illustrates how the Bangladeshi community’s roots in Paterson run deep and vibrant to this very day.”
The two-block section of Union Avenue from Sheridan to Wayne Avenue is dotted on both sides by Bengali-owned businesses. Bangladeshi-Americans own large number of homes in the Totowa and Hillcrest neighbourhoods.
“You are a major part of the fabric of Paterson,” said mayor Andre Sayegh. “Bengalis are here to stay in Paterson.”
For decades, Bengalis have dominated academics in city and county schools. Sayegh pointed out both the valedictorian and the salutatorian at the Passaic County Technical Institute (PCTI) were Bangladeshi-Americans.
Over the past decade, Bengalis, who have higher voter turnout rates than other ethnic groups in the city, have become a big force in local politics. In 2012, the Bengalis elected their first Bangladesh-American councilman Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman in an upset election. Four years later, councilman Shahin Khalique ousted him, highlighting the tumulus politics within the close-knit ethnic group