Shirley Lacey
Served 15 years on Englewood Council

Shirley Lacycq, a civil rights activist who served 15 years on the Englewood City Council, died at Inglemoor Rehabilitation & Care Center on Saturday, a day after her 88th birthday.

"She was all of 4-foot-11 but a towering figure a real firebrand," a daughter, Celeste Lacy Davis, said Tuesday.

By the time |of her 1977 appointment to fill a 4th Ward council vacancy, the Harlem-born and New York University-educated Mrs. Lacy had a long civil rights résumé.

She marched in Alabama with Martin Luther King Jr., battled for the desegregation of the Englewood public schools and worked to register minority voters. While chairwoman of the area chapter of the Congress on Racial Equality, she led picketing of swim clubs that refused admission to blacks. Those efforts bore fruit in 1963 when a dozen clubs in Bergen and Rockland counties ended their bans.

Mrs. Lacy was best known for promoting the political empowerment of African-Americans, her daughter said. She was, for a time, in a position to do so, as leadership training director of the Scholarship, Education and Defense Fund for Racial Equality, which developed community projects in the minority community.

"The name of the game for poor people is power, not revenge," she said in a 1970 profile of the organization in The New York Times.

Her own political involvement consisted of service on the Englewood City Council she was president in 1985 and 1986 and worked as a legislative aide to state Sen. Byron Baer, D-Englewood. Earlier, she was an organizer in the 1972 presidential campaign of Shirley Chisholm, an African-American congresswoman from Brooklyn.

Former Mayor Sondra Greenberg recalled Mrs. Lacy as a collegial and hardworking representative who pushed developers of Englewood construction projects to hire minority workers.

At a 1992 council hearing, Mrs. Lacy scolded the owner of a Hackensack adult novelty shop who wanted to open a branch of the business in her 4th Ward. She accused the merchant of targeting Englewood because of its black population.

"I hope you will never open in Englewood," she said. "We have enough problems as it is guiding and directing, if you will, our young people in wholesome activities."

Weeks later, the council approved an ordinance restricting such businesses to industrial zones.

Former Assemblyman Arnold Brown, D-Englewood, the first African-American from Bergen County to serve in the Legislature, said Mrs. Lacy was "a person of civic consciousness who worked toward good causes."

"That she has gone on to her glory is a great loss to our community," he added.

Shirley Lacy is survived by her daughters, Deirdre Gaskin of Englewood and Celeste Lacy Davis of Brooklyn; two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Her husband, Reginald Lewis Lacy, died in 1969.

The funeral service will be Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Community Baptist Church of Englewood. Arrangements are by Benta's Funeral Home, Manhattan.

Email: [email protected]
Published by The Record on May 23, 2012.
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5 Entries
Valenda Newell
January 28, 2017
Celeste, I am so sorry to hear of you mom's passing. she was indeed a firebrand. I am sorry I never met you . My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family
lori valencia-greene
December 25, 2013
To the family of Shirley Lacy: Your Mom and Grandmother was a wonderful mentor to me in all ways, when we moved to Englewood in 1966!

May God bless and comfort.

Lillie and Al Williams
Virginia Beach, VA
May 29, 2012
There come a time in every woman's life when she takes a close look at herself.
She looks back with clouded vision unable to see clearly all the women who strode the path beside her or crossed on the way to a new endeavor, aware of one another's earthly form, judging appearance, listening to voices and searching eyes to match soul with speech, truth and purpose. Seek hard and find a woman who has chosen and endured the most unusual life is someone of wisdom, someone chosen by God to go through things that have made her stronger. Shirley Lacy was a remarkable woman. Privileged our paths crossed and the knowledge she shared with other women during her extensive civic activities in Englewood, New Jersey. I pray with clearer vision now, Shirley see all she accomplished in her earthly journey.
Dolores Walker
May 28, 2012
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
Denise Ellison
May 25, 2012
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