July 1, 2020

Paying Tribute to the Life and Contributions of Romus Broadway

To the Editor:

There are many Princeton residents whose families have, for generations, been the backbone and sustainers of their neighborhood and this town. These are the rooted families whose names may not be known, however, their services and struggles have engulfed every entity of Princeton.

One such family is the Broadway Family whose rich history and services, for four generations, have enriched, not only the Witherspoon-Jackson Community, but the town of Princeton as domestic employees, entrepreneurs, educators, lawyers, artists, athletes, and authors.

The history of a people is told through the written word, by oral interviews, and by taking a walking tour of noted places. What really brings the history of an individual, families, and a community alive and appreciated is to see their pictures displayed with pride and respect! Romus Broadway was the photographic historian for centuries of proud residents who lived in the Witherspoon-Jackson Community. When his many well displayed posters were viewed at various events, church services, schools, community programs, or showing a display for families who were celebrating a reunion, a conversation would start among persons who recognized themselves, their friends and family members.  Romus often spoke about the close and lasting friendships of those who lived in this neighborhood. “…we were Black, Italian and Irish and we all got along….”

Romus was a loyal son, brother, father, grandfather, and friend who lived his entire life in his family home on Birch Avenue. He often told of all the families who lived on Birch Avenue whose parents and grandparents dedicated their lives working for the wealthy people in Princeton, working as cooks and servants in the clubs at Princeton University and Princeton social clubs. Through their dedicated and often demeaning work, through their faith, hope and determination, the fruits of their labor saw that all of their children and many grandchildren graduated from college and continued to be contributing members of society.

One could witness Romus’ smile, his witty jokes, yet his sincere and heartfelt presentations about the hundreds of people that grace each one of his displays. Princeton, New Jersey will always remember Romus Broadway, a man who grew up and was educated in this town and continued his education at Amherst College. He spent his life traveling and reading to always learn and share, to be available to talk about the struggles and successes of families who rose from subservience to success. Through his insight, knowledge, and years of uplifting us through his photographic history we honor and remember our friend. We anticipate the day when all will be together to pay tribute to the life and contributions of Romus Broadway!

Trustees Of The Witherspoon-Jackson Historical And Cultural Society

Shirley A. Satterfield, President