Jersey City centenarian India N. Edwards will be featured in the first Oral History film series presented by the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy.

Edwards, one of the city’s pioneers in the Civil Rights movement, will offer recollections of growing up, working and experiencing life to the fullest during her 104 years in Jersey City.

The 15-minute film, shot by local videographer Juan Diego Roque, will be screened on the evening of August 29 in the second-floor council chambers at City Hall, 280 Grove St.

And Edwards will be available after the screening to take questions from the audience. She may also favor the group with an impromptu reading from a book of original poetry she’s written over the years. The program begins at 6 p.m. and is slated to run two hours.

Nathalie Kalbach, a Conservancy trustee who interviews Edwards in the film, said: “This event offers not only an opportunity to delve into the intricate threads of Jersey City’s cultural fabric but also a chance to witness the remarkable journey of India N. Edwards. Her story encapsulates the resilience and spirit of our community.”

The series, Kalbach said, will focus “on people and the spaces they inhabit and the role architecture plays in shaping their lives.”

Kalbach credited the Jersey City Arts and Culture Trust Fund for providing the financial backing for this project and for two other videos anticipated for release later this year, along with fellow Conservancy trustees Mandy Edgecombe, who was the brainchild of the oral history film series; and Chelsea Castro.

India Nicholson Edwards, whose grandfather was born enslaved in Virginia and later re-settled in New Jersey, spent her formative years at her grandparents’ home at 759 Communipaw Ave. She attended Snyder High School where, at that time, she was one of only eight Black students.

After graduation, India went on to enroll in the Ohio-based Wilberforce University, whose website describes it as “the nation’s oldest private, historically. Black university owned and operated by African-Americans,” tracing back to its founding in 1856.

She earned a B.A. degree in science and social administration and, returning to Jersey City, applied her academic discipline after being hired as a social worker at Christ Hospital where she continued working into her 70s.

In Jersey City, India achieved several milestones advancing racial equality, becoming the first Black social worker for the Hudson County Welfare Board, the first Black social services director for the Lutheran Home, the first Black executive director of the Jersey City Office on Aging and the first Black social services director at Christ Hospital.

She and her husband of 56 years, Clarence “Dutch” Edwards, made their home at 122 Glenwood Ave. The couple had four daughters, two of whom, now ages 79 and 76, still live with their mom.

Their next-door neighbor was Ella Barksdale Brown, an African-American civil rights advocate who became known for bringing the teaching of African-American history into public schools. Ella's husband was John Brown, who co-founded the first Black-owned bank in Jersey City with Dr. George E. Cannon.

India and Ella looked out for each other and when John passed away, India ended up caring for Ella.

The Edwards couple also formed a close friendship with noted Jersey City attorney Raymond Brown and his spouse and, together, they journeyed to the nation’s capital for the famous March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in 1963.

India is a worshipper at the Second Reformed Church in the city’s Heights.

Her film will also be shown at the Conservancy’s annual award presentation ceremony slated for September 14. Transcripts of a 2-hour-long interview Kalbach conducted with India figure to be available on the group’s YouTube channel and its website in October.

The group is now in the process of editing its second film which will focus on Mary Graham Aiken, a jazz singer who performs Friday nights at Moore’s Place on Monticello Avenue. Aiken also volunteers at Grace Church in Downtown and works at Camp Liberty.

The third film project will feature Sam Pesin, founder of the group, Friends of Liberty Park.

Ron Leir has been a journalist since 1972. That includes a 37-year stint as a reporter, copy reader and assistant editor with The Jersey Journal, followed by a decade as a reporter with The Observer in...