NEW JERSEY - On Friday the city of Newark dedicated the Clinton Avenue Firehouse to the city's first three African-American members of the Newark Fire Department.
William Thomas Jr., Shelton Harris Jr., and David Lee Bolden were all honored for their trailblazing work.
"I'm 92, I did a lot of crying, but I didn't expect this," Bolden said.
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All three men joined the department in the early 1950's when racism was still prevalent in the city and across the nation. For the first few years of their service, none of them were even allowed to actually fight a fire.
"They had to do salvage work," said Brian O'Hara, Newark's Public Safety Director. "When the fire was extinguished, they had to go in and put tarps over the property that was remaining."
Harris Jr. passed away in 1998, and Thomas Jr. passed in 1984. Harris Jr.'s son and daughter were on hand Friday to accept the honor on their father's behalf.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka also made Bolden an Honorary Battalion Chief, an honor made even more special by it occurring just before Memorial Day, as all three men served in the Korean War.