Tribute to Glenn D. Cunningham

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Special Tribute to Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham


Glenn was and always will be, a special friend to the Jersey City Free Public Library. He loved the Library and he would always say, "Sharing books and stories is a gift that lasts a life-time". He encouraged all of Jersey City to sign up for a free Library Card at any of the 11 branches, the Bookmobile or the Main Library.

Some people are meant to teach; some are meant to lead. When both attributes are combined you have the powerhouse known as Glenn D. Cunningham.

When Glenn talked of leadership, he talked of stepping up to the challenge. Finding resolutions to community problems were like giant jigsaw puzzles for him (and others) to solve, and he relished the challenge. Glenn talked of recognizing the power vacuums that exist, and when they present themselves, to have the courage of
fulfilling that vacuum.

That’s what leadership was to Glenn D. Cunningham: Taking on responsibilities when others might shy away. Taking on the complexities of life, and meeting them head-on.

Glenn D. Cunningham
NJ State Senator (D-31st LD)
Mayor, City of Jersey City

An extraordinary life by an extraordinary man.

A man of firsts: First African-American U.S. Marshall for NJ. First African-American Mayor of NJ’s second largest city. Decorated law enforcement professional: Patrol Officer and Detective, Jersey City Police Department; Director, Hudson County Department of Public Safety; U.S. Marshal for NJ. Amateur historian: Writer of Jersey City historical articles in The Jersey Journal, and producer, writer and narrator of the video, Hidden Footprints, chronicling slavery and the Underground Railroad in his native and only residence, his beloved Jersey City. At the time of his death, Glenn Cunningham was researching and writing a book on the Underground Railroad and Jersey City, entitled, Next Stop, Freedom!

The Honorable Glenn D. Cunningham began his political career as a Hudson County Freeholder in the mid-1970s. By the early 1980s, he won a seat on the Jersey City City Council, and ascended to Council President. In 1987, Cunningham first ran for the State Senate, and lost, only to be vindicated in 2003 when he won the 31st Legislative District by a decisive victory. In 1989, Council President Cunningham’s run for Jersey City Mayor produced no win; instead it produced many who believed in him. His second run for that position, in 2001, without the need for a run-off, created a winner.

But Glenn – as we all knew we could call him – was a winner in so many other ways. Glenn was kind, a soft-spoken man who could be heard above the rest. Glenn was a straight arrow, befitting his U.S. Marine service and law enforcement background. Glenn was an elected official who honored loyalty, not just extracted it from his followers. In short, Glenn D. Cunningham won in the best arena of all – as a human being.

"Mayor Cunningham's life demands notice... a life that exemplified kindness, a life that illustrated the Golden Rule, and a life that burned so that others' paths were lighted. Mayor Cunningham was living proof of just how fine a person can be. He trusted others and he himself could be trusted."

Priscilla Gardner
Library Director

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