By: Richard L. Smith
Newark's Wynona Lipman was the first African-American woman to be elected to the New Jersey Senate when she was appointed in 1971.
After serving 27 years, she made history as the longest-serving member of the State Senate, according to njwomenshistory.com
Lipman was born in LaGrange, Georgia, in 1923, the daughter of John Wesley Moore, Sr. and Annabelle Torian Moore. According to published reports, her parents met as students at Clark College in Atlanta, and her father owned a pharmacy and worked as a bricklayer.
According to a 2005 article in The New York Times entitled "JERSEY FOOTLIGHTS; Unsung Heroines Of the Brick City," Lipman was often the only woman serving in the Senate and was nicknamed "Steel Magnolia."
"As the New Jersey State House did not have a restroom for women, a state trooper would stand guard outside the men's room when she used it," The New York Times article said.
Throughout her career, Lipman was devoted to the underdog cause. She worked on behalf of issues related to women, minority groups, children and small businesses. One law that Lipman supported worked to broaden statutes on domestic violence to protect victims and help children of troubled families, according to njwomenshistory.com.
She also served on the Governor's Council on AIDS, the Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect and the New Jersey Court Team on Domestic Violence.
Lipman died of cancer on May 9, 1999, but left behind a legacy, including a non-profit named after the senator.
The Senator Wynona Lipman Child Advocacy Center (known as Wynona's House) was founded in Newark, New Jersey, as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to helping children who have been abused or neglected.
Wynona's House revolutionized the process endured by children and families of Essex County coping with the aftermath of abuse and neglect.
According to a statement on the organization's website, they are a collaboration of more than 70 multi-disciplinary advocates helping the children of Essex County who have been abused or neglected.
Wynona's House coordinates a cross-systems partnership that leverages both public and private resources to improve outcomes addressing the problem of child abuse, neglect and maltreatment within the 22 municipalities of Essex County, including Bellville, Bloomfield, Caldwell, Cedar Grove, East Orange, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Glen Ridge, Irvington, Livingston, Maplewood, Millburn (and Short Hills), Montclair (and Upper Montclair), Newark, North Caldwell, Nutley, Orange, Roseland, South Orange, Verona, West Caldwell and West Orange).
According to the statement, the multi-agency collaboration serves 789,565 county residents and provides direct services to more than 600 abused or neglected children each year.
INFORMATION & IMAGE CREDIT: njwomenshistory.com, The New York Times, Wikipedia
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