Essex County Executive DiVincenzo hosts Annual African American History Month Celebration

Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens, II Receives Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award and ECC Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Marion A. Bolden Receives Coretta Scot King Leadership Award

Newark, NJ –  Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. hosted the Annual African American History Month Celebration.During the ceremony, the County Executive presented the Essex County Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award to Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens, II and the Essex County Coretta Scott King Leadership Award to Dr. Marion A. Bolden. The significant contributions of these two individuals to our community and their dedication truly captures the dignity and determination of Dr. King and his family.

“African American History Month is a special time of the year when we highlight the many contributions and achievements African Americans have made to our culture, economy and daily lives throughout our history,” DiVincenzo said. “Ted Stephens and Marion Bolden have spent a lifetime in public service, impacting our residents in many areas of their lives. Our honorees epitomize Dr. and Mrs. King’s commitment to their community and are deserving of this recognition,” he added.

Theodore N. Stephens, II was appointed as Essex County Prosecutor in 2017. As Prosecutor, he serves as the chief law enforcement officer for the County and heads a department containing over 420 Assistant Prosecutors, investigators and support staff. Prior to being appointed as Prosecutor, he was elected as the Essex County Surrogate in 2011. As Surrogate, he presided over the County court where wills are probated and non-will estates, guardianships and adoptions are administered. He also served as the Deputy Clerk for the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Probate Part for Essex County and was re-elected as Surrogate in 2016.

Prosecutor Stephens began his public service career as Corporation Counsel for the City of East Orange. Following that assignment, he was appointed as a judge of the East Orange Municipal Court and to the bench of the City of Orange Township Municipal Court where he served for 17 years. While sitting on the municipal bench, Prosecutor Stephens maintained a private law practice in Maplewood and as an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickenson University and Essex County College in the Paralegal Studies Department.

He received a B.A. in Political Science/Economics from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University). Thereafter, he attended Seton Hall University Law School where he earned his Juris Doctor Degree in 1980.

“I am honored to receive this award with Marion Bolden, who has done so much for the City of Newark. I am proud to lead the Prosecutor’s Office during this pivotal time. What we do over the next three years will influence law enforcement for generations,” Stephens said.

Dr. Marion A. Bolden became a member of the Essex County College Board of Trustees in 2018 and was elected chair of board in 2019. During her tenure as chair, the college selected Dr. Augustine Boakye as its new president and plans were undertaken to build a new satellite college campus in West Caldwell.

Prior to joining ECC, Bolden served as Superintendent of the Newark Public Schools from July 1999 until July 2008. As Superintendent, Dr. Bolden implemented several initiatives to improve student achievement in the classroom, district finances and infrastructure. A major part of the high school reform focused on the establishment of career academies in all secondary schools. The district also has the highest percentage of 3 and 4 year olds enrolled in preschool. Under a $1.6 billion facilities plan, Science Park High School, First Avenue Elementary, Central High School, Park Avenue Elementary and Speedway Elementary schools were constructed. Earlier, Belmont Runyon Elementary and the Malcolm X Shabazz Athletic Complex were opened.

Prior to her appointment as Superintendent, Dr. Bolden served as the Associate Superintendent of Teaching and Learning for the Newark Public Schools from 1996 through 1999, Director of Mathematics from 1989 through 1996 and chair of the Mathematics Department at Arts High School. She began her career as a math teacher at Barringer High School.

Dr. Bolden is a member of numerous professional organizations, including the American Association of School Administrators, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Association of Black School Educators, NJNAACP, ACCT, and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. Additionally, Dr. Bolden serves as the chair of the Newark Public Schools Historical Preservation Committee and is a member of the Boards of Newark Symphony Hall Performing Arts Center, Newark Landmarks and Preservation Committee and Newark Public Schools Urban Debate League.

“I want to thank the County Executive for recognizing me and the Prosecutor. We were put on hiatus two years ago because of the pandemic and I’m proud to receive this award in the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Building,” Bolden said. “I have been retired for 14 years and Newark schools and children are still the most important things on earth for me,” she added.

Providing accolades for the honorees during the ceremony were Senate Majority Leader and Deputy Chief of Staff Teresa Ruiz, Commissioner Vice President Carlos Pomares, Sheriff Armando Fontoura, Essex County Human Resources Director Jackie Jones, Essex County College President Dr. Augustine Boakye, Newark School Superintendent Roger Leone and Deputy Chief of Staff William Payne.

Arts High School student Gabrielle Domont sang the National Anthem and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Arts High School student MacKenzie Roc recited a poem by Maya Angelou.

The African American History Month Celebration is the part of a year-long cultural series created by County Executive DiVincenzo to highlight Essex County’s diversity. Other cultural celebrations highlight Irish, Italian, Jewish, Latino and Portuguese heritage and Women’s history.