Dr. Clement A. Price, Rutgers Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor of History, has been appointed the City of Newark’s official historian by Mayor Luis Quintana. Price was sworn in during a City Hall ceremony where Price also was presented with a key to the city, the city’s highest honor, by the mayor. He will serve in the voluntary position at the pleasure of the mayor.
In addition, the mayor named Price to chair the committee that will organize observances of the 350th anniversary of the City’s founding, in May 2016.
“I am truly humbled by this honorific appointment by Mayor Quintana. I want to thank him and the City for the support that my life and times here in Newark have always received from the Municipal Council,” stated Price. He paid homage to his predecessor in the post, the late Charles Cummings. He noted that Cummings was not a native Newarker but “became a Newarker to the marrow of his soul. He was the encyclopedic historian of Newark, the quintessential Newark tour guide, and the avid and persuasive Newark booster and cheer leader. “He noted, “Whatever zeal and effectiveness I can bring to this position, I will do so with Charles Cummings close to my heart and even closer to my memory of how much this City’s history matters to Charles and me.”
A longtime resident of Newark, Price has led sought-after tours of the city for decades, in which he highlights areas of historical, social and cultural significance. He has been called on frequently by major national and international media to comment on Newark’s history, current events and politics, and has given numerous lectures and talks on the city, enlightening thousands with his unique perspective and scholarship.
The award-winning documentary film, The Once and Future Newark, produced in 2006 by Rutgers University-Newark, has enabled a wider audience to learn about Newark via the film’s many broadcasts on New Jersey and New York public television. In the film Price tours numerous sites in the city, putting them in the context of Newark’s long history, Newark’s challenges, and Newark’s significant assets.
Price, who received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Bridgeport and the Ph.D. from Rutgers University, is considered the foremost authority on black New Jersey. He is the author of Freedom Not Far Distant: A Documentary History of Afro-Americans in New Jersey (1980) as well as numerous other scholarly works. He has taught at Rutgers University-Newark since 1969 and is the founding director of the Rutgers Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience, an interdisciplinary academic center that partners with civic and philanthropic institutions to offer public programs featuring distinguished scholars and thought leaders who discuss key issues of modern life.
Along with the late Giles R. Wright, Price is the co-founder and co-organizer of the Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, one of the nation’s oldest and prestigious conferences in observance of Black History Month in New Jersey. In 2010 he established the Clement A. Price Endowment for the Humanities at RU-Newark to ensure the continuation of the Marion Thompson Wright Lectures Series.
Price’s lifelong philosophy – “part of my roots as an African-American” – is to give back to the community through civic engagement, and his appointment as city historian is just the latest way for him to do just that. He is a trustee of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, president of the Newark Education Trust, chairman of the Save Ellis Island Foundation, and a member of the Scholarly Advisory Committee to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. He chaired the New Jersey State Council on the Arts from 1980 to 1983.
Price was agency lead for the National Endowment for the Humanities on President Obama’s transition team, and in 2011 the president appointed him vice chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Price also sits on the advisory council for the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
Price, who holds honorary degrees from William Paterson University and Drew University, was named New Jersey Professor of the Year by The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) in 1999. Price was inducted into the Rutgers University Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 2006.
His numerous other honors for his academic and community service include the New Jersey Nets Basketball Black History Month award in 2011; the 2010 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award from Essex County; and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Local Initiatives Support Corporation, New Jersey, in 2008.