Bessie Lanier Smith


Bessie Lanier was born in Virginia but graduated Arts High in 1942 with a major in music. She was prominent in the Clinton Hill anti-poverty activities with United Community Corporation and as a community leader in Clinton Hill. She was first president of the area UCC leader board for Clinton Hill (Area Board 3). She was also secretary of the Newark Legal Services Project and a trustee of UCC.

She was elected an assistant treasurer of UCC hours before her death at 42. Mayor Hugh Addonizio said, “Although we could not always agree she was a person who demonstrated true community leadership and helped many persons participate in city affairs who had never taken part before.”


Arts High Yearbook 1942

“Mrs. Smith’s Rites Monday” Newark News June 18 1966, Newark Library IF files

Cummings, Charles, “From Church to State, African-Americans Left Their ImprintStar Ledger Feb 4, 1999

“Dies Hours After Getting Newark Poverty Post” Star Ledger Jun 18, 1966

Digitized material

Rise Up Newark