Ruby Young kisses her great granddaughter, Zoe, as her granddaughter, Syliva looks on. They’d gathered to honor the life of Young’s late husband, Celess Young, on June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)

By DIEGO JESUS BARTESAGHI MENA
bartesaghi@montclairlocal.news

Councilman David Cummings stood on the corner of Orange Road and Cedar Avenue in the South End of Montclair Saturday, thinking back on Celess Young — a longtime barber and mentor to countless members of the community.  

Young owned and operated Young’s World of Beauty on Orange Road for decades, until retiring in 2005. Many first had come to know him before that, at the Young and Brown Barbershop he’d co-owned with his brother-in-law, on Bloomfield Avenue. 

Young’s World of Beauty was one of the earliest businesses to thrive in the neighborhood,  Cummings, who represents the Fourth Ward, said. It had been started in the late 1970s and still stands today, he’d later tell Montclair Local.




“It was here before all of them,” Cummings said Saturday, when he and others had gathered to honor Young’s memory, and celebrate his life with a plaque in a triangle park that bears his name. “He saw what his community could be. He came here and he was successful.”

Young, known to many in the community as “Mr. Young,” died in 2016. Young’s World of Beauty Orange Road, across from the plaque’s location, is now operated by his son-in-law, Marc S. Williams.

Those gathered Saturday said Young did far more than cut hair — he shared wisdom and insights with a community he cared about deeply.

The dedication followed a car caravan by the Montclair African American Heritage Foundation, taking the place of the organization’s usual annual parade. This year’s grand marshals were Montclair residents Myrna Hinton and Margaret Stewart. The ambassador for the event was Father Charles Brady, a former pastor at St. Peter Claver Roman Catholic Church, founded in 1931 as an African American Mission in the township of Montclair.

“He would drop at least five pearls of wisdom in your ear so you were wiser when you left than when you came in,” Jeffrey Grayson, one of the several speakers at the event whose lives had been touched by their connection with Young, said. “Mr. Young not only wanted your haircut to be tight, but your mind to be right.”

Roger Terry, a former deputy mayor and former deputy police chief, said there’s always been something special about the wisdom Young shared. 

“He was the one who convinced me to become a police officer and make a difference in our community,” Terry said. “That was Mr. Young.”

Deputy Township Manager Brian Scantlebury spoke about the many conversations he had with Young.

“If you had those one on one conversations with him in his chair, you left that chair either learning something or with the nugget you had to think about going forward,” Scantlebury said.

Dr. Renee Baskerville, a former Fourth Ward councilwoman, had worked in 2016 to pass the resolution that named Celess Young Park.

“Many of us have memories of the barbershop when he was on Bloomfield Avenue, and even before many barbershops were doing women’s hair, Mr. Young opened the door to everybody,” Baskerville said. “People didn’t go there just to get the best cuts in town, but they would go there to get life lessons.”

State Sen. Nia Gill, representing the 34th Legislative District that includes Montclair, said the plaque commemorating Young is about celebrating Montclair’s history. She and Assembly members Thomas P. Giblin and Britnee Timberlake, also representing the district, had sponsored a state proclamation honoring young.

The proclamation “stands for all of our ancestors who made a way out of nowhere,” the state senator said.

Giblin told those gathered Montclair is a great community in part “because of the mosaic we have in the Fourth Ward/South End — many people who have been successful in their lives.”

County Commissioner Brendan Gill — who, like Nia Gill and Giblin, lives in the township — said there’s an obligation “to remind those who want to be part of this community what the history of this community has been, and what it took to get here.”

Maxine Young, Young’s, thanked the community for coming to celebrate her father’s memory and his legacy in Montclair.

“Most people know that Mr. Young’s barbershop was more than a barbershop,” she said. “You would step inside, and find deep thoughts, thought-provoking discussion about everything from sports to politics. It was a show to fill your soul, guaranteed to walk out feeling respected and full of wisdom. That’s the legacy my father left us.”

An earlier version of this post misattributed a statement made by Jeffrey Grayson.

The plaque honoring Celess Young is located across the street from Young’s World of Beauty barber shop, June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
From left, Sylvia Young Grant, Ruby Young, Zoe Grant, Maxine Young, on June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Ruby Young with her great granddaughter, Zoe, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Silvia Young Grant, watches the unveiling of a plaque honoring her grandfather, Celess Young, with her daughter, June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Ruby Young reads the plaque honoring her late husband, Celess Young, June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Ruby Young reads the plaque honoring her late husband, Celess Young, June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Family memers admire the plague honoring Celess Young, June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Christopher Young unveils the plague honoring his father, Celess Young, while his mother, Ruby looks on, June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Ruby Young walks to where the plaque honoring her late husband, Celess Young, will be unveiled, June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Ruby Young applauds, June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Community members gather to honor the late Celess Young, a longtime barber in Montclair, June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Maxine Young speaks at the ceremony to honor Celess Young on June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Maxine Young speaks at the ceremony to honor Celess Young on June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Community members gather to honor the late Celess Young, a longtime barber in Montclair, June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Marc Williams applauds, at the ceremony to honor Celess Young, June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Community members gather to honor the late Celess Young, a longtime barber in Montclair, June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Jeffrey Grayson addresses the crowd, at a ceremony to honor Celess Young, June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Marc Williams embraces State Sen. Nia Gill at a ceremony to honor Celess Young, June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Attendees applaud at the ceremony to honor Celess Young, June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Christoper Young, with his grandchildren and daughter Sylvia Young Grant, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Attendees applaud at the ceremony to honor Celess Young, June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
State Sen. Nia Gill addresses the crowd, at a ceremony to honor Celess Young, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
State Senator Nia Gill at a ceremony to honor Celess Young, June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Former Fourth Ward Councilwoman Renee Baskerville addresses the crowd at a ceremony to honor Celess Young, June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Montclair Schools Superintendent Jonathan Ponds addresses the crowd. KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Myrna Hinton listens to the speakers, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Ruby Young listens to the speakers at a ceremony to honor her late husband, Celess Young, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Brian Scantlebury says Celess Young was a pillar of the community and talks about his own time in Young’s barber’s chair, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
County Commisioner Brendan Gill, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Mayor Sean Spiller, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Fourth Ward Councilman David Cummings emcees the event, a ceremony to honor Celess Young following a car caravan by the Montclair African-American Heritage Foundation on June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Surrounded by family members, Ruby Young holds a framed photograph of her late husband, Celess Young, June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Ruby Young holds a framed photograph of her late husband, Celess Young, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Ruby Young sits surrounded by family members and, directly behind her, Marc Williams, who took over her late husband’s barber shop after he retired. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Claudine Cummings Marshall and Bisa Washington pose with a classic car for the Montclair African-American Heritage Foundation’s car caravan on June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Montclair African-American Heritage Foundation honoree Myrna Hinton at the foundation’s car caravan on June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Abdul Wahid laughs with Robin Curry and Cathy Stephenson Smith, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
The ambassador for the Montclair African-American Heritage Foundation’s car caravan, Father Charles Brady, arrives, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Grand marshal Myrna Hinton arrives at the Montclair African-American Heritage Foundation’s car caravan on June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Grand marshal Myrna Hinton arrives at the Montclair African-American Heritage Foundation’s car caravan on June 5, 2021. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Cathy Stephenson Smith walks grand marshal Margaret Stewart to her seat at the Montclair African-American Heritage Foundation’s car caravan, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
The Montclair African-American Heritage Foundation’s car caravan, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Gramd marshal Margaret Stewart waves to the attendees at the at the Montclair African-American Heritage Foundation’s car caravan, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Gramd marshal Margaret Stewart waves to the attendees at the at the Montclair African-American Heritage Foundation’s car caravan, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Grand marshal Myrna Hinton waves to the attendees at the Montclair African-American Heritage Foundation’s car caravan, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Anita Mack greets the Montclair African-American Heritage Foundation’s car caravan June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
The Montclair African-American Heritage Foundation’s car caravan arrives in the South End Business District, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
The Montclair African-American Heritage Foundation’s car caravan arrives in the South End Business District, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)
Joy Kay and Patricia Hurt wait for the Montclair African-American Heritage Foundation car caravan to begin, June 5, 2021 (KATE ALBRIGHT / FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL)