City’s first female, African-American mayor, Essie honored in Orange

Published 5:00 pm Wednesday, October 17, 2018

By Krista Chandler

The Orange Leader


The City of Orange’s first female and African-American mayor, Essie Bellfield, was honored at her home church, Salem United Methodist Church, on Monday afternoon.

Celebrating her accomplishments and commitment to the betterment of Orange, the community celebrated the renaming of one of the church’s education buildings in Bellfield’s honor.

“It was so nice,” Bellfield said about the event. “I had to look around to see who they were talking about.”

Bellfield said it difficult to believe she was the one being talked about.

Bellfield was elected as the Mayor of Orange in 1998 after serving on the Orange City Council in 1994 and as Mayor Pro Tem in 1997.

Since then, “she has remained active throughout the City of Orange and has been the recipient of numerous awards,” said City Councilmember Annette Pernell. “She continues to be an outspoken and diligent member of Salem United Methodist Church.”

In July, the City Council unanimously voted to rename Orange’s senior center after Bellfield.

The woman holds lifetime memberships to the NAACP, Top Ladies of Distinction and the Council of Negro Women, among others, and is widely respected by the community of Orange, according to Pernell.

“She is still fighting for the entire city,” Pernell said.

– Dawn Burleigh contributed to this article.