Groundbreaking for NJ school named after civil rights icons who fought segregation

PLAINFIELD, New Jersey (WABC) -- A district in New Jersey broke ground Wednesday on a school being named after two civil rights icons who won a key case against segregation in the state.

The Plainfield Board of Education voted to approve the name for the new school being built on the site of the former Woodland School, The Charles and Anna Booker School.

More than half a century after they changed the trajectory of education for Black and brown children in Plainfield, 98-year-old Charles Booker and his 96-year-old wife Anna are being immortalized..

"We are excited about our new school," third grader Cori Johnson said. "Even more excited that the new school will be named after the Bookers.

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A district in New Jersey will name a school currently under construction after two civil rights icons who won a key case against segregation in the state.

They were on hand for the ceremony breaking ground on the elementary school that will bear their names.

"Recognizing and honoring the effort humbles both my wife and I," Charles said.

The case, Booker vs. the Board of Education of the City of Plainfield ended segregated schools, changing the formula used to assign kids to schools, as their own young son was facing the discriminatory practice.

"The love that we are feeling is just outstanding," Anna said. "As we break ground today, we're giving rise to education for generations to come."

The Bookers, who met in grammar school and have been married for decades, are honored and loved throughout Plainfield. The community came out in huge numbers to show appreciation.

"They're two of my favorite people, a hero and a shero," Mayor Adrian Mapp said. "What a fitting recognition for two people who have done so much for this city."

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Sandra Bookman reports on the archive helping future generations learn about the many accomplishments of African-Americans.

The Charles and Anna Booker school will have 750 children up to fifth grade.

"This new school will serve as lasting legacy for Charles and Anna Booker," said Manuel Da Silva, with the Schools Development Authority. "Reminding generations of Plainfield students of their activism and commitment to the education of Plainfield students."

It is expected to be completed by spring of 2022.

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