LA PARKER – TRENTONIAN, AUGUST 22, 2011

In the end, when just about everyone had packed up and gone home, skies over Trenton opened, drenching this capital city with a wonderful downpour.

Rain served as a perfect ending to an incredible day at Cadwalader Park where thousands celebrated the first Trenton African American Pride Festival.

The water seemed to wash clean the city’s slate.

For all the naysayers, doubters, and others who hoped for drama, violence, or some other calamity — nothing happened.

There were no arrests, no fights, no shooting, nothing, except proud black Trentonians, hope-filled African Americans, in full celebration of us and our potential.

Trenton’s African American Pride Festival celebrated our national anthem and black national anthem, flew the American flag and flags of African nations.

I firmly believe that a small injection of pride into city streets where people have almost yielded to crime, self-loathing, poverty and have stepped away from education, can begin to turn the tide here.

This is a message for all the haters — don’t count Trenton out just yet.

The soul of Trenton remains up for grabs, caught up in a demilitarized zone of perhaps and never; purity versus corruption; simple love and irrational hatred.

Regardless the obstacles, no matter how much people talk or even BackTalk, nothing will stop a second festival or a movement that will saturate Trenton with positive energy.

Standing together with Mayor Tony Mack in a sun-drenched patch of Cadwalader Park green earth, I told the city’s leader that Trenton’s future remains in his hands and that it’s time for him to shake free of all the people that damage whatever credibility he has left.

Mack is fortunate that the Trenton African American Pride Festival occurred under his watch and the mayor has every right to claim this event on his resume.

Trenton pulsed with amazing energy and with city pride sizzling like an isotope, it’s time for Mayor Mack to make a decision about the direction of his leadership.

Certainly, Mack and the City of Trenton coming aboard for the TAAPF provided immeasurable support but our committee aligned with city winners like Isles, Inc., former Mayor Douglas H. Palmer’s Trenton First Initiative, Plant a Seed Foundation, Mercer County, Mercer County Community College, Tara Developers, New Jersey Department of Corrections, Marriott Hotel, Christine’s Hope for Kids Foundation and many others.

In other words, this effort cultivated a collaboration between a variety of sources albeit not all like-minded.

Alienations remain as most Caucasians stayed away from the TAAPF just as most African Americans alienate from the Italian-American Festival or celebrations of other ethnicities.

I still believe we should consider ourselves first children of God, then human, next American and finally recognize our heritage.

Maybe we will get there someday but I will tell you that the TAAPF ratcheted up my pride level.

Now, it’s time to build on this event and move Trenton in a positive direction.

Never mind the verbal opposition.

We can and will together create unimaginable successes.

Just watch.

— L.A. Parker is a Trentonian columnist and staff writer. His column appears on Tuesday and Thursday. Reach him at laparker@Trentonian.com.