Tag Archive: Orange

The Last of the Radium Girls – And Grace Fryer and the New Jersey Women Who Took on a Company

New Jersey has a long, and awful history with industrial pollution and its residents have suffered for it. But here’s a part of NJ history – with brave women who fought back though they could barely walk, a landmark case and a milestone in regulation and labor safety – and I knew almost nothing about it. I went to school in New York; talk to me about Love Canal. I didn’t know about the Radium Girls, or the Radium Superfund sites in Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Montclair, West Orange and East Orange. Read on, and if you know more than I did, feel free to chime in. – Rosi


Earlier this year, Mae Keane died in Middlebury, Connecticut. She was, at 107, the last of the Radium Girls.

Had she been more obedient, more apt to be bullied into compliance by her bosses and the corporation for which she worked at 18, she might have ended up like most of the other Radium Girls. Some of them never made it out of their teens. One young woman was sent to the dentist to have a tooth pulled. One yank and her whole jaw came out. Women collapsed; their legs suddenly giving out, their bones porous and breaking underneath them. There was cancer. Early death. And the company tried to blame the women. Typical.  

Robert Peace and “I Can’t Breathe”

Camden, Trenton, Newark, Jersey City, Montclair, Lawrence, and Princeton are just some of the New Jersey locations where people have taken to the streets protesting police injustice and repeating the phrase “I can’t breathe.” Saturday in East Orange students marched loudly and peacefully down Martin Luther King Blvd. Next door in Orange is where Robert Peace was born in 1981. He lived a short, tragic life – a bright African-American who attended St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark and went to Yale but could not escape problems confronted by so many of his brethren.

Outrage over the decision not to criminally charge the police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in Staten Island is a recurrent theme in our history. In Newark in 1967 a black cab driver was pulled over by police and badly beaten within sight of residents. Thus began the Newark insurrection.

The current protests go well beyond discontent with police problems. Following the election of President Barack Obama there was talk about a new post-racial society. It continues a work-in-progress. The ongoing racial tension is displayed by Robert Peace who learned to live and even thrive at Yale and yet under the surface resented the inequality he saw around him. He was an A+ student leader but bore the weight of a father in prison, a mother who works two shifts a day, and a childhood living in a low-income, dangerous neighborhood.  

While it’s hard to find justice in the Ferguson and Staten Island incidents, there remains the hope that the coalition of protesters – people of all colors and ages – will yet manage to bring about new procedures, attitudes and broader change. Perhaps one small step forward was in July when after a three-year study the U. S. Department of Justice announced it would install a monitor over the Newark police that it found had repeatedly violated the rights of its citizens, especially blacks. Many more steps are needed.

Anand Giridharadas concludes in a N Y Times book review of Peace’s biography, “Robert Peace, who called his mother “my heart,” was her only and beloved son. But he was our son, too. We are the wondrous country that made him a Yale man. We are the wanting country where even that wasn’t enough to spare him.”  

An exciting announcement

As we noted in this morning’s News Roundup, this is going to make an interesting 2013, with Prof. Alexander primarying Nia Gill. As though 2013 wasn’t already going to involve turf battles, rending of garments and long pointy knives. Prof. Alexander was state director for the Obama campaign in 2008. – promoted by Rosi

This morning I made an exciting announcement: I am going to be running for the State Senate in New Jersey’s 34th Legislative District.  My entire career has been dedicated to serving my community, working to elect progressive leaders, and trying to make things better for working class families. Today is the first step in bringing more accountable representation in the State Senate to families throughout Clifton, East Orange, Montclair, and Orange.  

Right now my focus remains on reelecting President Obama in November.  But in order to make sure I have the resources necessary to run a competitive race in June 2013, I thought it was imperative to get started early.  Over the coming months I am going to be raising seed money and putting together a strong campaign team that can help me get across the finish line in June.  

With Governor Christie up for reelection next year, it is so important that Democrats across New Jersey begin to mobilize.  We need strong voices to stand up against his rhetoric.  As a former National Policy Advisor to President Obama, I know I can bring strong progressive alternatives to Trenton that will move New Jersey forward in putting people to work, protecting our environment, and ensuring women have access to healthcare services.  

I hope everyone on Blue Jersey will follow me on Twitter @MarkCAlexander and comment below.  I want to hear your thoughts, comments, and questions as we move forward in New Jersey.    

Hackett won’t resign as Mayor, will seek re-election

Despite the fact that he has resigned from his Assembly seat, Mims Hackett wants to continue serving out his term as Mayor and apparently will seek another as well…

Amid mounting calls that he step down from his municipal office, Hackett will continue serving and plans to run for re-election in May, said John Azzarello of Chatham, his defense attorney.

“We trust the fair-minded people of Orange and of New Jersey not to engage in a rush to judgment concerning the allegations that have been made against Mayor Hackett,” Azzarello said.

Previously, Governor Corzine had this to say upon Hackett’s resignation from the Assembly seat…

Gov. Jon Corzine called Mims’ resignation a “good step” but said he should also quit his post as mayor.

It will be interesting to see how the party responds to Hackett’s intentions.