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Plaques honoring former Newark Mayor Kenneth Gibson, former Essex County Freeholder President Pearl Beatty and former Freeholder Lebby Jones were dedicated today along Essex County Legends Way at the Essex County Government Complex in Newark.
All three passed away earlier this year.
Legends Way the creation of Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo.
Gibson served as mayor of Newark from 1970 to 1986, becoming the first African American mayor when he defeated two-term incumbent Hugh Addonizio.
Beatty was elected to the Board of Freeholders in 1978 after voters approved a charter change referendum and became the first Freeholder President in county history.
Jones served as a freeholder and Irvington councilwoman.
DiVincenzo also added plaques in tribute to Trish Morris-Yamba, who had served as executive director of the Newark Day Center, and former La Casa de Don Pedro executive director Ramon Rivera.
“Pearl Beatty, Ken Gibson, Lebby Jones, Trish Morris-Yamba and Ramon Rivera each dedicated their lives to helping others, improving their community and putting the needs of others before their own. They each impacted the lives of many,” DiVincenzo said. “They are deserving of being remembered as Essex County legends and having their names at our government complex will remind people of their contributions,” he added.
The plaque for Beatty was presented by Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who is Acting Governor this week while Gov. Phil Murphy is on a trade mission to India.
“I have had the privilege and honor of knowing and working with each one of these people,” Oliver said. “Pearl Beatty served the community with strength and dignity. When she was elected, it was the first time in my life that I ever saw a black woman hold a political position. She set the standard for the others who followed.”
Essex County Freeholder President Brendan Gill applauded DiVincenzo for creating Legends Way.
“Commemorating plaques is an uplifting memorial for all of us and helps us remember our leaders and teach our future generations,” Gill said. “Each of the honorees today embody service and dedication to Essex County.”
“It’s refreshing to know how they each touched our lives. I want to also thank their families for sharing them with us,” said Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman LeRoy Jones, a former freeholder and assemblyman.