JERSEY CITY, N.J.: Sep. 18, 2017 – The Director of the Jersey City Free Public Library, Priscilla Gardner, announced today that the Library will unveil a new permanent exhibit of City Icon Mayor/Senator Glenn D. Cunningham’s Personal Library and Memorabilia, to be housed on the third floor of the Main Library, 472 Jersey Avenue.
“This exhibit will attest to Cunningham’s lifelong history-making achievements,” said Gardner. The late Mayor and State Senator made history in 2001 by becoming the first and only African-American to be elected to the office of Jersey City Mayor.
The exhibit will feature not just that story, but also others, including Cunningham’s work as a United States Marshal, which he gave up to become the mayor of New Jersey’s second-largest city. Cunningham also led Jersey City through pure horror, as it became the lifeline to lower Manhattan for manpower and supplies following the September 11, 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center Towers.
The exhibit will be unveiled on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. on the third floor of the Main Library. The Main Library is located at 472 Jersey Avenue, Jersey City, N.J. Director Gardner stated that the unveiling is open to the public, and there will be a small reception and live entertainment.
Senator Sandra B. Cunningham, Mayor Cunningham’s widow, was pleased by the Library’s announcement. “The fact that this installation is going in opposite ends of the city from the New Jersey City University exhibit, is special because it was always Glenn’s goal to make it one city, a city of Golden Neighborhoods,” said Senator Cunningham. “While serving as an educational and historic learning tool, perhaps these exhibits in opposite ends of the city can bridge it together and work towards Glenn’s goal putting all of Jersey City first so that everybody feels the same level of pride about their neighborhoods.”
According to Senator Cunningham, Mayor Cunningham was well on his way to ending Jersey City’s “Tale of Two Cities,” or the divide between the haves and the have-nots, when he inked a deal with Goldman Sachs to completely finance a $5 million affordable housing project (The Auburn) in the city’s most neglected region, Ward F on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
“Glenn believed so much in the power of education, so much so, that it was one of the primary covenants he’d talk with youngsters about at every opportunity, especially at the Jersey City Public Schools and the Jersey City Free Public Library,” said Senator Cunningham, who made history herself when she fought for, and won her late husband’s senate seat in Trenton; she has held the post since being elected in 2007.
Director Gardner often tells employees and patrons that the late Mayor/Senator Glenn Cunningham was frequently heard to say that “the library is a poor man’s university.” Gardner said she will always remember those seven words. Soon after becoming Mayor, Cunningham led an entourage of city employees and city directors to the Main Library to register for Jersey City Free Public Library cards in the Lending Department, on the second floor of the Main Library.
“Not only would Mayor Cunningham frequent the Main Library to do research, he would spend his birthday in the New Jersey Room researching through archives to obtain information for the book he was writing,” recalled Gardner.
Glenn D. Cunningham was also State Senator for the 31st Legislative District while serving as Jersey City Mayor – another first for the city – at the time of his untimely death in May 2004.