‘United We Change’ seeks a better Bayonne

The group looks to bring back a sense of community for youth

Following demonstrations against racism and police brutality in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, new activist groups are meeting the challenge at the local level.

United We Change President Lucious Williams, Community Service Specialist Daishawn Kemp, and Secretary Miranda DiLorenzo spoke to the Bayonne Community News. 

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Other board members are Bryant Kings, Shawntel Kings, and Daniel Smith. The longtime friends grew up in the city. Some left, but now all are back.

How it all started

Williams said the genesis was the Power in the Park demonstration, organized by Black in Bayonne.

On social media, Williams voiced his lack of closure with the event, which spurred others to gather in front of City Hall after the protest.

Williams told his core group of friends that people were looking to them for “something else.” Enter United We Change.

“I would love to be able to have more things for the kids like I did when I was a kid,” DiLorenzo said.

“I don’t see many role models, or neighborhood heroes for lack of better words, in the community,” Kemp said. “I want to be the change for the younger generation that I wish we all had growing up.”

‘Off the cell phone’

“The main goal is to just get these kids together, get them off the cell phone, get them off the tablet and get them engaging with each other and their neighbors, even through the coronavirus,” DiLorenzo said.

“Kids are more concerned with what’s on their tablets, on their computers, and cell phones than actually knowing their neighbors in their community, and putting their best foot forward and just being there physically.” Kemp said.

DiLorenzo said that she was raised by her whole block on 48th Street as a family. Bayonne is “not the same as it used to be.”

“There was a sense of community that we had as children where you have parents and our friends’ parents looking after us, and we just want to revive that,” Kemp said.

“If we were hungry, one parent called everybody in for a snack,” Williams said.

Kemp continued: “With everything that’s going on in the country right now with the racial divisions being stoked, it’s definitely imperative on our part to do something to remind the community of how connected we can be.”

Uptown cleanup

DiLorenzo recalled the group’s first event, a community cleanup uptown on Sept. 27, in conjunction with the Clean Sweeps Initiative.

Garbage has been an issue throughout the pandemic, with gloves, masks, and medical debris littering the streets.

DiLorenzo said they had a large turnout, covered a lot of ground, and want to make cleanups all over town a monthly occurrence, including raking leaves and shoveling snow.

Kemp said that he was raised to “be at all times doing something for the greater good” and that the idea for the cleanup came from his time at St. Peter’s University, where he frequently participated in community cleanups. Residents become passionate about a clean town.

Join up!

The group’s next event will be a Trunk-or-Treat on Halloween at 26 West 16th Street from 4 p.m. until candy runs out. Masks and social distancing required.

United We Change is always looking for volunteers. Email unitedwechange7@gmail.com, or follow them on Twitter or Instagram at unitedwechange7.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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