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    Pillar College Celebrates Rev. Dr. Ralph T. Grant with Black-Tie Event & Fundraiser 

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    Date: May 3, 2024
    Time: 6 p.m. reception & silent auction; 7 p.m. Dinner & Awards Program
    Location: The Grand Ballroom, Robert Treat Hotel, 50 Park Place, Newark, NJ

    By Candace Waller

    Pillar College is honoring Dr. Ralph T. Grant, Jr. — an educator and statesman for 60 years — with a black-tie reception and fundraiser on Friday, May 3rd at the Robert Treat Hotel as he retires from his position as Vice President of Academic Development. The impact of Grant’s accomplishments on education can be felt around the city of Newark and in New York City.

    Dr. Grant joined Pillar College in May 2011 as the first Pillar employee to occupy the Military Park Building in Newark, NJ.

    Because of his longtime friendship with the owner of the building, Mr. Miles Berger, Pillar received favored status then and several more times as the college expanded its footprint in the building.

    “Little did we know that three months later Hurricane Irene would flood the Somerset campus, an event which enabled the college to make the Military Park Building in Newark our main campus,” said Pillar College president David Schroeder, who first met Dr. Grant when the two worked together at Nyack College.

    “And on a personal note, his wisdom, counsel, and support have been a great encouragement to me as president of Nyack College and Pillar College for nearly three decades.”

    Dr. Grant is known for taking on many roles while at Pillar College. In addition to helping them secure the college’s placement at the Military Park Building, Dr. Grant taught courses in the adult education LEAD (Life Enhancing Accelerated Degree) program and assisted with procuring of the MBA in Social Sector and BEST (Black Elementary School Teachers) program that focuses on increasing the number of Black male teachers in classrooms around the county. 

    Dr. Ralph T. Grant, Jr.

    “The fact that many Black children grow up in a home without a father figure makes having a Black male teacher so important to our youth,” Dr. Grant said.

    Additionally, he has mentored several faculty and staff members at Pillar College, frequently sharing his knowledge and leadership tips. 

    Dr. Grant also established the Newark President’s Advisory Council, inviting 24 urban leaders from government, church, business, and education giving the college status and recognition.

    His illustrious career in education was something Grant accomplished despite social constraints. He spent his childhood years growing up in South Carolina during the Jim Crow era. His great-grandmother, Victorine Rebecca Jefferson Grant, the daughter of a former slave, encouraged Dr. Grant to pursue education. He became a great student, but in his early years of high school he found a job and didn’t attend classes, opting to take exams to pass 9th and 10th grades.

    It was a classmate who pulled Grant aside and told him he should come to classes and make school his primary focus.  Dr. Grant redirected his focus and never missed a class during his 11th and 12th grades graduating with honors. He went on to earn eight collegiate degrees starting his post high school studies at Shaw University, the first Black College in the South. 

    “I really took to heart what my classmate said to me because she was so sincere,” Dr. Grant said. “She told me to focus on school. I took her advice and never looked back. I wanted to make up for all the years my ancestors were denied an education.”

    After completing his various degrees, he got into business and was the successful owner of Brothers Limited Men’s Clothing store, with two locations in Newark and one in Elizabeth.  However, he always wanted to contribute back to the community, a desire which led him to becoming involved in local civil rights. Subsequently, he supported local candidates, calling people and inviting them to various rallies.

    After coming to the attention of Newark Mayor Kenneth Gibson, he was invited to write his speeches. His political career started when the then mayor asked Grant to become the Executive Director of the Newark Human Rights Commission in 1970. Grant, an established businessman, had to make a decision.  After prayer and consulting with his family, he sold his stores and entered politics. 

    During his time in office, he encouraged students in education and his efforts resulted in more than two thousand students attending his alma mater, Shaw University. He sponsored visits to the college, paying for buses and lodging for children and chaperones in Newark so they could visit the school. He also adopted the Harriet Tubman School, one of the best in the county, and served by visiting classrooms and encouraging students.

    Dr. Grant served 25 years in local politics, including 16 as an elected official and five as the President of the Newark City Council.

    Grant, who has lived in both Newark and East Orange, recently made Florida his home. He lost his beautiful wife and lifelong partner, Essence’s magazine columnist, Dr. Gwendolyn Goldsby-Grant in 2018.

    Dr. Grant doesn’t plan to stop giving back. The father of three and the grandfather of two said he is looking to assist schools near his home. He credits his long life, he will be 89 on his next birthday, to his strong spiritual, lifelong vegetarian lifestyle and thirst for learning. 

     “It is so important for people to give back to their communities,” Dr. Grant said. “I have been blessed and thankful every day of life, and I want to continue helping others.”

    Pillar College wants to continue the legacy Dr. Grant started at the school and felt this event that will consist of a red carpet and silent auction will help them in that area.

    “The Awards Gala & Fundraiser is a black-tie event that will give honor and tribute to community leader and advocate Dr. Ralph T. Grant,” said Pillar College Board member Dr. Mayra Suero-Wade. “This evening will bring people together in support of Pillar College, and the retirement of this tireless leader while he receives the Pillar College Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions. Additionally, funds raised from the gala will go to support the work of Pillar College, and “The Dr. Ralph T. Grant Jr. School of Leadership and Business will be established.”

    Those interested in signing up for the black-tie event can purchase a seat or make a contribution to Pillar College by visiting the website at Pillar.edu/event.