CRANFORD - At one point, she couldn't get hired at Cranford High School because of her skin color. Now, the library is named after her.
On Thursday, Cranford High School officially changed the name of its library to the "Dr. Deborah Cannon Partridge Wolfe Library and Learning Commons." Born in 1916 and a graduate of Cranford High School, Dr. Deborah Cannon Partridge Wolfe challenged racial and gender barriers and helped reform education throughout her life.
After graduating Cranford High School, she went on to receive a Bachelor's Degree from New Jersey State Teachers College, along with a Master's Degree and Ph.D. from Columbia University. Following college, Dr. Wolfe was denied a job at Cranford High School due to her skin color. It was then suggested by her mentor at Columbia University that she head down to Alabama if she wanted to work in education.That was only the beginning of her journey.
Dr. Wolfe has been referred to as Cranford's "most famous person you’ve never heard of," but her accomplishments speak for themselves. Some include being the first African American professor at Queens College, City University of New York, first African American to serve on the New Jersey Board of Education, first African American, and later Chair, of the New Jersey State Board of Higher Education, and much more.
Possibly the biggest achievement of Dr. Wolfe's career was serving as the Educational Advisor for Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy. Some laws she helped to guide through Congress were the Higher Education Facilities Act of 1963, Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, among others.
"She was a pioneer who her left indelible mark on the world," said Cranford Superintendent Dr. Scott Rubin. "We're honored to celebrate her and what she stood for and in the high school she herself graduated. What a special way to commemorate her."
"Although I'm grateful that her legacy is going to live on in the Deborah Cannon Partridge Wolfe Library and Learning Commons, let's be sure that what Dr. Wolfe stood for, also lives on in our thoughts and in our actions," added Dr. Rubin.
Along with the Dr. Deborah Cannon Partridge Wolfe Library and Learning Commons, "The Deborah Cannon Partridge Wolfe College of Education" at New Jersey City University was dedicated in her honor in April of 2007, a high school in Macon County, Alabama (Deborah Cannon Wolfe School) bears her name, and a residential dormitory at The College of New Jersey (Travers & Wolfe Hall) is named after her.