The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Monday, August 15, 2011

Honoring Donald Van Blake on His 90th Birthday

 At tonight's city council meeting, I will be reading a resolution honoring Donald Van Blake on the occasion of his 90th birthday and for his contributions to the world of tennis, but also for his contributions to civic life in Plainfield. Many Plainfielders who went through the school system know Donald as their former shop teacher at Hubbard Middle School, but many also know him as one of Plainfield's living legends. 
I had met Donald very briefly during the formation of the New Democrats for Plainfield grassroots political club about ten years ago, but got to know him better when I curated an oral history/photo exhibit called "At the March: Plainfield Remembers," while serving as the Educational Program Coordinator for the Historical Society of Plainfield. As I interviewed Donald, I learned a great deal about what Plainfield was like for young African Americans growing up in the 1920s and 30s, and about those who consistently advocated for change. Several years after that exhibit, Donald contacted me with an idea he had for a civic, sports, and educational complex to be built here in Plainfield. We discussed this idea at great length, and he is committed to seeing it become a reality. I feel like my life in Plainfield has become infinitely richer through knowing Donald, and I hope you will join with me in wishing him a happy 90th birthday!


COUNCILMANIC RESOLUTION HONORING DONALD VAN BLAKE FOR HIS 
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE CITY OF PLAINFIELD AND ON THE OCCASION
OF HIS 90TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

Introduced by Councilwoman Rebecca L. Williams:

WHEREAS, Donald Van Blake, lifelong resident of the City of Plainfield, born in Muhlenberg Hospital on August 9, 1921, continues to educate Plainfield children and adults about the importance of tennis; and  

WHEREAS, Donald Van Blake was present and served an active participant in some of  the most important social justice and civil rights activities of the 20th century, among them advocating for an end to segregation in Plainfield and organizing Plainfield buses for the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom; and

WHEREAS, Donald Van Blake remains actively involved in the civic and political life of Plainfield, now serving his fifth term as a member of the Plainfield Democratic City Committee; and

WHEREAS; Donald Van Blake, a distinguished member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., is known throughout the world of tennis as Plainfield’s “Ambassador of Tennis,” and is equally known for his slogan, “Tennis, Tennis, Tennis…Tennis everyone”; and

WHEREAS, in 1983, Donald Van Blake, with the help of the United States Tennis Association, founded the Plainfield Tennis Council which organized community tennis programs throughout the City of Plainfield; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that on this day, the Governing Body of the City of Plainfield extends its sincere congratulations to Donald Van Blake on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Governing Body offers its continued appreciation to Donald Van Blake as he continues to educate, instruct, and inform Plainfield citizens about tennis specifically, sports in general, and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, that this Governing Body does hereby inscribe upon its permanent records evidence of an unforgettably great citizen.

ADOPTED BY THE UNANIMOUS COUNCIL OF THE
CITY OF PLAINFIELD
This 15th Day of August 2011

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