Coniglio/Rice Bill To Honor First Black Legislators Clears Senate

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Joseph Coniglio and Ronald L. Rice which would honor New Jersey’s first black legislators, Assemblyman Walter Gilbert Alexander, R-Orange, and Senator Hutchins F. Inge, D-Newark, was unanimously approved today by the full Senate.

“This bill is not just about honoring two men who made history in New Jersey as the first African-Americans elected to the State legislature, but it’s also about honoring the their respective terms which spanned through the early depression and the Civil Rights movement,” said Senator Coniglio, D-Bergen.

“It is important during this time of year to set aside time to honor African-Americans who have made a difference throughout the world and particularly in New Jersey,” said Senator Rice, D-Newark. “Coincidentally, Senator Inge was the first black man to sit in the State Senate, and he represented the same area of Newark that I do now, as the second black man elected to the Senate. As the Chairman of the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus, I will make sure that we as a Caucus ultimately identify all of the African-Americans who sat in the legislature, from the beginning to the present and we will create a document to chronicle black history in the legislature.”

The Senators’ bill, S-2482, would provide for the display of two plaques in the State House, honoring Assemblyman Alexander and Senator Inge.

Assemblyman Alexander, a physician, was elected to the General Assembly in 1920 and went on to serve two legislative terms. The son of former slaves earned his bachelor’s degree from Lincoln University in 1899, and in 1903 he earned a medical degree from Boston College of Physicians and Surgeons. Assemblyman Alexander died in 1953 at the age of 73.

Senator Inge, also a physician, served in the legislature from 1966 to 1968, and was chairman of the Senate Federal and Interstate Relations Committee. A graduate of both the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy and of the Howard University School of Medicine, Senator Inge served on the staff of United Presbyterian Hospital in Newark. Senator Inge passed away in 2002, at the age of 101.

This bill was unanimously approved by the Senate State Government Committee on January 29. It now heads to the Assembly for consideration.

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