For James Du Bose, service to his community was of utmost importance.
A native of Newark, Du Bose spent his professional career protecting and serving those around him, including the residents and employees of New Community which he served as NCC’s director of security. He died October 29 at the age of 86.
Known to most Clarion readers as the history buff who shared fascinating reads in the “Black History Notes” column, Du Bose was passionate about educating the community about the past events that helped shape present day.
Like a skillful journalist, Du Bose had a knack for finding the story behind the story. His columns featured historical figures such as Oney Judge, the personal slave of First Lady Martha Washington. Judge’s story of escape, via a community of free blacks in Philadelphia, ignited the abolitionist movement as inspirational tales traveled quickly about the slave who had escaped the most powerful man in the nation, George Washington.
Du Bose also dug up tragic stories such as the execution of teenager George Junius Stinney Jr. Stinney, just 14 at the time, was the youngest person ever to face capital punishment in the U.S. when he was put to death by electric chair. (Stinney’s second-degree murder conviction was posthumously vacated in 2014.)
Monsignor William J. Linder, founder of New Community, called Du Bose “a very exceptional human being” and praised his efforts to impart relevant lessons from history to Clarion readers.
“The very fact that he had that interest—I wanted to promote it,” Monsignor said.
Born January 31, 1929, James E. Du Bose, Sr. attended Newark Public Schools and graduated from Barringer High. Known as “Jim” to most of his friends and acquaintances, Du Bose served 28 years in the Newark Police Department. While working in the department’s Intelligence Unit, he worked undercover investigations and coordinated the security for such high profile visitors as President Jimmy Carter, President Gerald Ford, the Dalai Lama, Rosa Parks and Muhammad Ali, among others. Previously, he completed the New Jersey State Police Special Tactics training program in Sea Girt and had earned a brown belt in karate.
“Jimmy Du Bose was all about service to our community,” said Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura. “All of his energy, drive and focus was aimed at making safe havens for Essex County residents. He literally invented the concept of Community Policing which has now become the core focus of police-community relations,” he said.
In 2014, Du Bose received recognition from NPD that was long overdue. He and his then partner, the late Det. Norman Harris, were awarded the Medal of Honor by Newark police for rushing into a burning home and rescuing five children (plus a puppy) on Sept. 11, 1963.
The honor, which came about 50 years after the fact, was prompted by a letter that Du Bose wrote on March 28 to then Police Director Sheila Coley. He explained to Coley that he believed both he and Harris, who were patrolmen, were overlooked by the department due to racial prejudices. Du Bose said that he was seeking recognition on behalf of himself and his partner after watching a news clip from earlier that month of President Obama presenting the Medal of Honor to veterans of the Korean and Vietnam was as well as World War II.
“He believed in everything that’s right and fair as a police officer,” said Madge Wilson, New Community board member, who had known Du Bose for more than 25 years.
Du Bose also knew what it meant to be part of history. He led a group of black police officers who ended up serving as parade marshals in the historic March on Washington in 1963. He also petitioned the French government, through the office of Congressman Peter Rodino (D-NJ) to restore France’s highest military honor to a World War I veteran, Newark resident William Ogden Layton, when the medal was stolen from him upon returning from France. Layton was a member of the famed 369th Infantry Regiment.
After his time at NCC, Du Bose worked at the Essex County Sheriff’s Department from 1992 to 2006. However he continued to stay connected to NCC and faithfully contributed to the Monsignor William J. Linder Scholarship Fund each month, Monsignor noted. The same year he retired from the sheriff’s department, Du Bose moved to North Carolina, where he resided with his family in the town of Chocowinity. He was a member of Metropolitan AME Zion Church in Washington, N.C.