James Credle

James Credle, a Black man wearing a blue head covering and striped shirt, looks seriously at the camera. His hands are folded. He is wearing glasses.
Recorded by:
Interview Date(s):Sunday, February 15, 2015, Saturday, May 3, 2014
Location:Rutgers University-Newark

James Warren Credle (1945-2023) is a retired American academic administrator, counselor, and Veterans and LGBT rights activist. Born in Mesic, North Carolina, he was one of 14 children born during the time of Jim Crow. His mother was a dayworker and his father worked part-time as a carpenter. Credle and his siblings worked through high school to supplement the family income. He worked in fields picking cotton, potatoes, corn, and cabbage. He later worked in a crab factory. His family were members of Mount Olive Baptist Church where he sang in the choir. James graduated from the all-black Pamlico County Training School in 1962. He moved to Newark, New Jersey to work at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Lyons, New Jersey with his aunt and uncle.

James worked for three years at the Veterans' Administration Hospital in Lyons, New Jersey. In 1965, he was drafted into the army and served two years in the military at Fort Devens training to be a medic. He served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1967 as a Spec 4 medic for the 196th Light Infantry Brigade where he was wounded yet continued to help other soldiers evacuate while under enemy fire.

He returned to Newark shortly after the 1967 Newark riots and returned to work at the Lyons, VA Hospital. He attended Rutgers University–Newark from 1968 to 1972 under the G.I. Bill where he received  his B.A. in Sociology graduating third in his class. He started all four years on the Rutgers–Newark Scarlet Raiders basketball team serving as captain twice. James was a member of the Black Organization of Students (BOS) and Tau Kappa Epsilon. Along with other BOS members, Credle participated in a 72-hour occupation at Rutgers Conklin Hall protesting for increased opportunities and access for minority students, staff, and faculty at Rutgers–Newark.

He spent one semester at Rutgers Law School before obtaining the position of director of the office of Veterans affairs at Rutgers–Newark. In 1976, he became assistant dean of student affairs at Rutgers. His responsibilities included acting as the director of the office of Veterans affairs. James worked at Rutgers for 37 years. James was also a founding member and chairperson for the New Jersey Association of Veterans Program Administrators and the minority affairs director for the National Association of Concerned Veterans. He was a founding member of the National Association for Black Veterans, vice chair of the New Jersey Agent Orange Commission, and the Executive Director of the National Council of Churches' Veterans in Prisons program.  James is a founding member and previous Co-Chair of the National Association of Black and White Men Together and the New York Men of All Colors Together.

James is happily married to his husband of 10 years, Pierre Dufresne. On the morning of October 21, 2013, the first day New Jersey allowed same-sex marriage, the wedding was officiated by Cory Booker at Newark City Hall. James is an original co-founder and current President of Newark Pride Alliance /Circle of Friends Scholarship Awards and Progenitor of the Iconic Newark Fire & Ice Ball.

Photo credit: Tamara Fleming