Newark professor dies, leaves behind legend

Professor of history Clement Price official historian of Newark, NJ stands on the second floor landing of the main branch of the Newark Public Library, a historic landmark built in 1901
Professor of history Clement Price official historian of Newark, NJ stands on the second floor landing of the main branch of the Newark Public Library, a historic landmark built in 1901

Clement Alexander Price was a leader in every sense of the word.

Price, a Board of Governors distinguished service professor in the Department of History at Rutgers-Newark who also earned his Ph.D. at Rutgers, suffered from a stroke on Nov. 2, according to a press release from Carla Capizzi, assistant director of communications at the Rutgers-Newark Office of Communications. He passed away on Nov. 5. 

Aside from teaching at the University, Price, a Washington, D.C., native, immersed himself in the Newark community as the Newark City Historian and the chairman of the 350th anniversary of Newark’s founding in 1666, according to the press release.

He taught courses on a range of historical subjects, including the “Development of the United States,” “Intellectual History of Afro-America,” “Topics in the History of Newark” and “Paul Robeson and 20th Century Black Modernism.” 

Price was the founding director of the Rutgers Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience, an academic center that presents lectures, film screenings, exhibitions and other programs that “foster broad public discussion on the arts and culture, urban life and development, diversity and race relations, education, and history at the local, national and transnational levels,” according to the press release.

He also co-founded the annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, New Jersey’s largest and most prestigious Black History Month event.

To ensure the future of the MTW Lecture Series, he gifted $100,000 to Rutgers-Newark in 2010 for the establishment of the “Clement A. Price Endowment for the Humanities.”

In 2008, Price chaired President Obama’s transition team for the National Endowment for the Humanities, according to the press release. He served as vice chair of the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

The historian, teacher, husband and public intellectual has held leadership roles in the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Fund for New Jersey, the Save Ellis Island Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Newark Education Trust, the Save Ellis Island Foundation, the advisory council for the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Scholarly Advisory Committee to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. 

Price was the chief historical consultant for the Jewish Museum’s 1992 exhibition,

“Bridges and Boundaries: African Americans and American Jews” and for the 1998 award-winning documentary film, “Chanceman’s Brothers & Sisters: The Origins of the 20th Century Morris County Black Community.”

Price’s extensive career earned him many awards and titles, including New Jersey Professor of the Year in 1999 and 2006 and the 2011 New Jersey Nets Basketball Black History Month award, according to the press release.

Price was married to Mary Sue Sweeney Price, the former director of the Newark Museum, and the two were often described as “the first couple of Newark” because of their “many contributions to the city and its people.” 


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