EAST ORANGE, NJ — The 30 honorees in the 2019 class of the East Orange Hall of Fame were announced on Friday, Oct. 4, in the Jean L. James Auditorium at Cicely Tyson School and Performing Arts Center, 35 Winans St., East Orange.
The gala induction ceremony, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 30, at 6 p.m., in the Jean K. James auditorium, will celebrate the achievements and contributions of 30 individuals in five categories: arts and letters, performing arts, enterprise, civic and community service, and sports.
Among the 30 honorees are former state Supreme Court Justice Stuart G. Pollack and educators Steven Cowan, choir Director Jean L. James and Stephanie Bush-Baskette. Producer and director Tabari Sturdivant and former NBA star Marques Jamal Bragg lead the delegation of honorees.
Among those in the sports category is Bragg, who is now the head basketball coach at Newark Tech and works for New Jersey’s Juvenile Justice Commission. He said he’s honored to be included among the 30 honorees.
“I’m being inducted for being a basketball player,” Bragg told the Record-Transcript in a recent interview. “I went to all the East Orange public schools and I was fortunate enough to receive a four-year scholarship to Providence College, and I played professional basketball in the NBA and overseas for 13 years.”
“I believe it’s a great honor,” Bragg continued. “It’s a lot of people from East Orange before me, and to see the list of people that are on it makes me feel good. It makes me feel very proud that East Orange recognizes my accomplishments.”
Tracy Munford, vice president of public relations and community affairs of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey, is one of six honorees being recognized in the civic and community service category.
“I do the work that so many people do. I think that, somehow or another, I was just chosen,” Munford told the Record-Transcript recently. “I am so, so honored. East Orange is in my heart forever. My family is a rather large family from East Orange. That’s why I have a lot of younger cousins. I’m just honored to be a role model, in many ways, to them and to be able to have created a structure strong enough so they can stand on my shoulders and, hopefully, grow as I did here.”
Darryl Jeffries, facilitator and consultant for the East Orange Hall of Fame Committee, also anticipates the upcoming Nov. 30 event.
“We’re very excited about what will happen here at the Cicely Tyson Performing Center Jean L. James Theater,” Jeffries told the Record-Transcript. “We celebrate the proud legacy of this great city. The people, the places, the institutions that have put East Orange on the map nationally and globally. We have a proud legacy of service in the city and we’re proud to recognize those individuals who exemplify that legacy.”
“This is a milestone occasion,” Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II, the honorary chairman of the East Orange Hall of Fame Organization Committee, stated in a press release for the upcoming event. He said the event will, “pay tribute to the pioneering legacy of innovation and achievement that is deeply embedded in our cultural heritage in the great city of East Orange. Proceeds from the event will benefit youth development and cultural enrichment programs.”
Among the previous honorees are East Orange natives such as Nobel Prize-winner Richard Thaler and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, as well as entertainer Naturi Naughton and singer Janis Ian. Disco-era diva Gwen Guthrie and Wimbledon champion Althea Gibson were both honored posthumously.
“The establishment of the East Orange Hall of Fame provides a portal lens through which we can share an authentic and compelling narrative,” Stephens said, “to ‘tell it like it is’ about our ‘grand and glorious’ past while serving to inspire greater achievements among future generations.”
“I’m calling upon all of the ‘loyal and faithful’ East Orange natives who ‘hold near and dear’ the ‘community of our origin’ — I encourage everyone to reserve their seat on Thanksgiving weekend for this hallmark occasion,” Stephens continued. “It’s an event surely not to be missed.”
Sponsorships and tickets to the Nov. 30 event are available at https://eohalloffame.org/. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.