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Broke Barriers, Catapulted Futures: "The Inspiring Legacy of Newark Principal James Miller Baxter"


By: Richard L. Smith 

As RLS Media continues its commendable 29-day salute to black New Jersey figures who have made significant contributions, the story of Mr. James Miller Baxter emerges as a beacon of inspiration and perseverance.Real EstateAs a proud graduate and now retired educator of the Newark Public School system, this tribute to Mr. Baxter holds a special place in my heart.

Born into Philadelphia's African-American middle class, Baxter's academic journey began at the Institute for Colored Youth.

His remarkable intellect allowed him to complete a four-year program in just three years, setting the stage for a lifetime of groundbreaking achievements.


In 1864, at the young age of 19, Baxter became the first African-American principal of a school in Newark, New Jersey, a position he held with distinction until 1909.

RLS Media has learned that his tenure as the city's sole African-American principal during this period was marked by significant educational advancements and the promotion of inclusivity.

Baxter's commitment to education extended beyond his administrative duties. He established a night school in 1869 to provide educational opportunities to older students and actively participated in the Frederick Douglass Lyceum, furthering intellectual and cultural development.

His insistence in 1871 on the integration of African-American students into the all-white Newark High School, leading to the historic admission of Irene Pataquan Mulford, exemplifies his dedication to educational equality.

A respected member of The Historic Alpha Lodge No. 116, Baxter's influence extended into various facets of society. His personal life was equally rich, with a loving family of five children with his wife, Pauline L. Baxter.

James Miller Baxter's enduring legacy is encapsulated in the James M. Baxter Terrace Housing Developments, named in his honor.

His life and accomplishments, celebrated by RLS Media in its salute to influential black New Jersey figures, stand as a testament to the transformative power of education and the relentless pursuit of equality.

Baxter's story, a part of this 29-day tribute, is a vivid reminder of the profound impact one individual can have on their community, our educational standpoint, and beyond.

Thank you, Mr. Baxter. Real EstateSOURCE: Newark Public Schools Historical archives. Villanova Library 

SPONSORS: Nino's Ristorante & Pizzeria, Bergen Street Harrison, NJ, Jorelle Green S. Green (Keller Willams Realtor), Champions of Martial Arts (Union NJ)