Teaneck, NJ, “the first community in the nation with a white majority to voluntarily desegregate its public schools” in the 1960s, selected a Muslim to serve as mayor of its diverse town, The New York Times reported last week:
You’d like to think there’s just a feel-good story in the unlikely selection of Mohammed Hameeduddin as mayor of this diverse Bergen County town that is increasingly a stronghold of Orthodox Jews.
And, on balance, that’s probably the bottom line: a Muslim, who first got involved in local politics when his mosque was planning to expand, was picked by his fellow town council members, 5-to-2, as the town’s new mayor on July 1.[…]
And if the dominant story line was Mr. Hameeduddin’s ascent to the mayor’s chair, there was also bitter disappointment in Teaneck’s black community and intimations of discrimination when another council member, Lizette B. Parker, who had been the deputy mayor and was the top vote-getter in the May election, failed to become the first black woman chosen as mayor.
Sigh. Life’s complicated, particularly in this racially and ethnically diverse town, which became famous in the 1960s as the first community in the nation with a white majority to voluntarily desegregate its public schools. It’s certainly complicated now, with a powerful Orthodox community and 15 synagogues in a town of about 39,000 that is also almost 30 percent black, has a growing Latino population, and enough of a Muslim community to support two mosques and contentious local politics.
Read the full article here.