We read in the Star-Ledger of the passing of Mr. Russell Graddy, “Mr. G.”, whom we had met in the course of his fight for justice from NJ Transit. Over 2 or 3 years, he and his group of dedicated supporters showed up at each board meeting in “Justice for Mr. G.” T-shirts, speaking truth to power, with courtesy and passion, refusing to be discouraged. Each month, the group testified to Mr. G’s integrity, support of his community, and the need to right the long-standing injustice. Mr. G. was always the closing speaker, reminding the board that, though they individually were not there in Atlantic City so many years ago, a board inherits the unresolved problems of the past, and this was theirs to solve.
We learned a bit of his unexpected success in winning the bid for a shop at the Atlantic City bus station, his Paterson bank coming through to support him in that expansion, the dishonorable way in which he was evicted from that successful business, his rent payments for years afterward, even while locked out, in an attempt to resolve the issues. We learned of his role in bringing Dr. King to Paterson, of his influence in the community over the decades—and we had a memorable lunch at his diner, Mr. G’s. He arrived as we were eating, and sat with us for quite some time, shooting the breeze.
Some of us feared that NJ Transit was dragging out his case deliberately, so we were pleased when in 2020 we heard that NJT had finally made an offer that Mr. G. could accept. Given the pandemic’s closing of Mr. G’s, he has been living in the Catskills, where his funeral will be held; there will be a memorial service in his home city of Paterson.
Farewell, Mr. G.; rest in peace, rest in power, and condolences to your family and friends from all of us at the Lackawanna Coalition.