Benjamin Jenkins

Benjamin J Jenkins

Friday, January 11th, 2019
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Benjamin Jenkins, Educator, Civic Leader, Early Black Marine, Dies at 95

Benjamin Jenkins, an esteemed educator, civic leader, and one of the nation’s first African-American U.S. Marines, died in New Jersey on January 11, 2019. He was 95. In his near century on earth, Jenkins saw and achieved things that most Americans can only imagine or read about in history books.

He was one of the nation's first Black Marines—serving in a harshly segregated military to defend his country in WWII. He was a gifted teacher and educational administrator who helped hundreds of young people achieve their dreams as a teacher and administrator in the Detroit and Great Neck, NY Public Schools. He was a civil rights activist who stood near Martin Luther King, Jr. as Dr. King delivered his I Have a Dream Speech. He successfully demanded equal opportunity for all in housing, education, and healthcare. He was a wonderful and committed father and family man who always put others before himself.

Jenkins is survived by his sons, Craig and Alan Jenkins; sister, Dr. Shirley Jenkins Phelps; grandchildren Maya and Khari Jenkins; daughter-in-law Kirsten Levingston; and many beloved nieces, nephews, and cousins. His marriages to Olga Culmer and the late Mary Catherine Ryder ended in divorce. His third wife, Annyce Barrett, predeceased him.

In his 95 years, he forged his own path, loved and was loved, and made the world a better place. It's hard to ask for more than that in one life.

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Mercedes Maldonado

Posted at 08:20pm
During this difficult time may you find comfort, courage to face the days ahead and loving memories to forever hold in your heart. May the words of Psalm 34:18 “ Jehovah God is near to those that are broken at heart...” bring the entire family comfort and strength. Please accept my sincere condolences.

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