The Urban League of Essex County is proud to present the 2022 R.E.D. Gala William M. Ashby Award to Mildred C. Crump for her decades of public service for the citizens of Newark, for achieving trailblazer status as President of the Newark City Council, and for being a consistent advocate for women, children, senior citizens, the disabled, working families, and those in need.
Mildred Crump made history in New Jersey’s largest city 28 years ago when she became the first African-American woman elected to the Newark City Council. She registered another first in 2006 when she became the city’s first female council president after voters elected her to a fourth four-year term.
On Friday, 200 friends and family paid tribute to Crump during a 3-hour celebration filled with music, dance, and testimony about what Crump meant to Newark at the Good Neighbor Baptist Church on Chancellor Avenue.
“She was deeply moved and so very grateful. She was amazed that so many people came out to celebrate her,” her daughter, Sheri Crump, who lives in New Orleans, said after the event. “It was a wonderful celebration of her life, her faith, and the work she’s done in the community for over 50 years.”
Crump, 82, has health issues that were compounded by a fall last year. During an August 2021 City Council meeting, City Clerk Kenneth Louis read a letter of resignation on her behalf.
“I had a great run, and I’m proud of all that we achieved over the years,” Louis read from the letter.
Council members voted at the same meeting to give the top spot to Luis Quintana, who nominated his predecessor’s son, Larry Crump, to fill the remaining 11 months of her unexpired term. Quintana said he and Larry Crump would be on Mayor Ras Baraka’s slate in the May 10 municipal election.
Looking back on their time together as running mates and colleagues, Quintana said he was all the more proud of his election in 1994 because it was enshrined in the city’s political history along with Crump’s.
“I see her as someone who was a pioneer as an African-American female,” he said. “I was honored to become part of history with her as the first Puerto Rican elected official in this city. And I will always be thankful for her friendship and guidance.”
Crump made history as the first African-American braille teacher in her native city of Detroit before moving to Newark in 1965. Afterward, she held the same distinction for the State of New Jersey, according to her alumni biography at Rutgers University, Newark, where she earned a master’s in public administration.
She has been a board member for Integrity House and Habitat for Humanity’s Newark chapter. She also was a founding member of the New Jersey Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., the National Political Congress for Black Women of Newark, and the Global Women’s Leadership Collaborative of New Jersey, dedicated to women’s issues in Africa.
Pastor Fondrea Lewis, a friend who ministers at the Greater Glory Pentecostal Church in Newark, was among Crump’s celebrants on Friday when she sang the Black national anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing. Crump was devoutly religious, and Lewis said her public service was rooted in her spirituality.
“She has led from a place in her heart,” Lewis later said. “She has served with excellence, she has served with integrity, she has served with compassion.”