Dedication Ceremony Chessie Dentley Roberts School No.30
She was also very active in the Elizabeth community, taking her first job after college with the Urban League of Union County under William M. Ashby, the first African American social worker in the State of New Jersey. She acquired data while working with the Urban League of Union County to dispel the myth that African Americans could not pass the tests designed for office workers in corporate America and set up classes on how to prepare for and pass the tests being given at the corporations.
Ms. Dentley Roberts also worked with the Honorable Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP to bring a lawsuit against the City of Elizabeth to desegregate public housing. Additionally, she was appointed to the New Jersey State Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. Commemorative Commission, where she shared in developing statewide observances, and co-chaired the Elizabeth Martin L. King, Jr. Commemorative Committee, assuming a leadership role for organizing the black community to raise funds to build a monument in honor of Dr. King. The monument for Dr. King placed in Scott Park in Elizabeth was the first African-American monument on Freedom Trail and was dedicated on January 20, 1986, the date of the first official national observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
State, regional, and local elected officials and dignitaries joined the Elizabeth Board of Education, district central administration, members of the Chessie Dentley Roberts Academy learning community, family and friends of Chessie Dentley Roberts, and the guest of honor Ms. Dentley Roberts in formally opening the new school.
The ceremony, emceed by Chessie Dentley Roberts Academy School No. 30 principal Arlene Campbell, included an opening prayer by Mount Teman AME Church Pastor Reverend George Britt; performances of The Star-Spangled Banner by Chessie Dentley Roberts Academy School No. 30 students Amy Pafricha, Larissa Petcov, and Tykier Stevens, “Cantaloupe Island” and “Limbo Jazz” by the Chessie Dentley Roberts Academy School No. 30 After School Arts Jazz Band, and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and “A Jubilant Song” by the Chessie Dentley Roberts Academy School No. 30 Select Chorale; a video highlighting the life and achievements of Ms. Dentley Roberts; and an unveiling of a plaque for Chessie Dentley Roberts Academy School No. 30.
The Pledge of Allegiance and district Pledge of Ethics was led by Chessie Dentley Roberts Academy School No. 30 students Aleshka Urco and Naomi Vilbron.
Elizabeth Public Schools Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer, Elizabeth Board of Education President Diane Barbosa, City of Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, former State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, New Jersey Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Lamont Repollet, State Assemblyman Jamel Holley, Presiding Elder of Newark District AME Church Reverend Winton M. Hill III, Ms. Dentley Roberts’ great niece Imani Robinson, Ms. Dentley Roberts’ family friend Dexter Martin, Ms. Dentley Roberts’ daughter Adrien Lynn Byrd, and Ms. Dentley Roberts were among those who spoke during the program.
Assemblyman Holley, joined by State Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, presented a New Jersey State Assembly resolution to Ms. Dentley Roberts in honor of the event. Interim President and CEO of the Urban League of Union County, Inc. Donna Lowe Alexander presented a plaque on behalf of the Urban League of Union County to Ms. Dentley Roberts honoring her lifetime of community service. Yvonne James, President of the Women’s Scholarship Club, Inc. also presented a resolution to Ms. Dentley Roberts in recognition and appreciation of her service.