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A pillar of local civil rights activism

The following was submitted by the Harrison Township Historical Society

In the spirit of the 175th anniversary, read on about Dr. Irene Hill-Smith, who was born in Mullica Hill.

Dr. Irene Hill-Smith (1925–2011) was Gloucester County’s foremost civil rights activist. She served as president of the Gloucester County and New Jersey NAACP and rose to become the association’s national vice president from 1967 to 1979. Always at the civil rights forefront, she worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was one of the community leaders called by President Lyndon B. Johnson to help craft the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Born in Mullica Hill, Hill-Smith began her education in the segregated High Street School. She went on to graduate from Glassboro High School, studied at Virginia State and received a doctorate in humanities from Glassboro State College, now Rowan University.

Despite her many accomplishments and national prominence, Hill-Smith never lost sight of her local origins. As she stated in an interview archived at the Harrison Township Historical Society “everything I am, I am because of my environment, where I was born, where I went to school, where I was raised. Everything I’ve been, good or bad, goes back to Mullica Hill, and thank God, it’s been good.”

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