NAN Chapter president vows to carry on Jones’ legacy

Photo Courtesy of October Hudley
Deceased Essex County Freeholder, Irvington National Action Network Chapter founder and Team Irvington social and political organization co-founder Lebby Jones, left, stands next to at large Councilwoman and current Irvington NAN President October Hudley during the Irvington NAACP’s annual Freedom Fund Banquet at Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark last year, where Jones was honored by the local civil rights organization. Jones died of cancer on Wednesday, Jan. 9, and her funeral is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 17.

IRVINGTON, NJ — Irvington National Action Network Chapter President and at large Councilwoman October Hudley has vowed to carry on the legacy of civil rights and social and economic justice advocacy that former NAN chapter President and founder Lebby Jones bequeathed to her last year, prior to the group’s sixth annual Mother’s Day Breakfast on Saturday, May 12.

Hudley said the news of Jones’ death on Wednesday, Jan. 9, only strengthened her resolve to carry on leading the local chapter of the NAN forward into the future. NAN founder the Rev. Al Sharpton could not be reached for comment about Jones’ death or the future of the Irvington chapter by press time this week.

“I met Freeholder Lebby C. Jones over 20 years ago, while working under the leadership and mentorship of the late, great, honorable D. Bilal Beasley,” said Hudley on Monday, Jan. 14. “I was privileged to learn about how to govern and serve the community from a strong black woman whom I also consider my mentor by the late honorable Freeholder Lebby C. Jones. She also taught me about civil rights and shared her experiences about growing up in the South, which inspired me to join the Irvington Branch (of the) National Action Network, where she was the founder and president for six years.”

Hudley said her relationship with Jones continued and grew after she joined the Irvington NAN chapter and then, last year, it moved to a new level.

“She announced, after holding the position as president of the Irvington National Action Network, she was ready to step down,” Hudley said. “I decided to pick up the reins and was able to run with an awesome slate, including Vice President Pastor Jerry Smith, secretary Renee C. Burgess and treasurer Roxanne Sayers, and we successfully voted to continue to move the organization forward.”

According to Hudley, Jones left big shoes for her to fill but she believes she is more than up to the challenge, as she and Jones had a lot in common.

“Freeholder Lebby C. Jones was an educator, politician, community servant, lover of people and a strong African-American woman,” she said. “I myself am a retired educator, politician, community servant, a lover of people and a strong African-American woman. That is probably why we were able to work well together for common causes.”

Hudley said the first thing on the new Irvington NAN agenda is to expand the membership.

“Irvington National Action Network Meetings are held at Christian Pentecostal Church, 971 Clinton Ave., from 5 to 6 p.m. every first Tuesday,” said Hudley. “All are welcomed to attend. Any questions, feel free to call me, President October Hudley, at 973-420- 3780.”