Street will be renamed for Belleville native, Smithsonian secretary

A street intersection where the current Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute spent his formative years will be renamed in his honor next week, Belleville Mayor Michael A. Melham said.

Lonnie G. Bunch III blazed a trail from his family’s home at 125 Beech St. in Belleville to the Smithsonian, where he was selected as the institution’s first Black leader in 2019.

The township will honor Bunch and his lifetime of achievement by renaming the very street he grew up on.

Bunch will join Belleville officials and township residents for a street-naming ceremony Monday, March 20 at noon at the intersection of Beech and Greylock streets.

Members of the public and media are invited to cover this special event that will include comments from Bunch as well as Melham.

Before becoming the 16th secretary of the is the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, Bunch was the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Smithsonian’s 19th museum.

The son of Lonnie (a science and chemistry public school teacher) and Montrose (a third-grade public school teacher), it was during his youth in Belleville Bunch developed a love of history, and fostered a sense that African Americans deserve “a voice.”

The Observer spoke with Bunch about a year ago from his office in the nation’s capital and that story may be found here.

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.