YONKERS – Recently, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and the Yonkers City Council re-dedicated the pedestrian bridge that connects Yonkers City Hall to the Cacace Justice Center on Nepperhan Avenue in honor and memory of the City’s first African American Councilman, Joseph E. Burgess Jr. The re-dedication included a ribbon cutting ceremony and a walk across the pedestrian bridge in honor of Burgess.
“This re-dedication ceremony is a tribute to the immense contributions of Joseph E. Burgess, Jr., who paved the way for future generations of African Americans in our city,” said Mayor Mike Spano. “It is an opportunity for us to collectively honor and celebrate his life and legacy, and to renew our commitment to the values of diversity, inclusion, and social justice.”
Joseph E. Burgess, Jr. was the first African American to be elected to the Yonkers City Council in 1983 representing the city’s 1stWard. In 1992, he was appointed as the City’s Deputy Human Resources Commissioner and frequently gave presentations to students in Yonkers Public Schools. During his tenure, Joseph E. Burgess, Jr. worked tirelessly to ensure that the voices of African Americans were heard and represented in the decision-making process. Most importantly, Joseph E. Burgess, Jr. played a pivotal role in promoting social justice, equality, and diversity in the city.
“Joseph E. Burgess was a gentleman, statesman and a voice of reason during the most tumultuous times in Yonkers history,” said former Yonkers City Council President Vincenza A. Restiano. “It was an honor to serve with him on the Council and most fitting that the City recognize his place in history.”
The City of Yonkers originally dedicated the bridge to Burgess on June 5, 1995, however a permanent plaque was never installed to commemorate the designation. The ceremony was part of the city’s efforts to place an official plaque on the bridge, recognize Burgess and celebrate the contributions of the African American community prior to the start of the city’s Juneteenth Weekend.