Speaking with Atlantic City's First Lady Nynell Langford.
ATLANTIC CITY — She looked as regal and as confident standing on the steps of the white house on Monroe Avenue as First Lady Michelle Obama on the steps of the White House in D.C.
Clearly, Nynell Langford was giving (her husband) the mayor (of Atlantic City, Lorenzo Langford) some advice before he left home, a home which really is a lot like the White House with Nynell’s mom and two sons there, instead of two daughters.
Mariah, their daughter who died at age 4, is remembered lovingly everywhere you look inside their stylish home — “the most awesome visitor to have ever passed through here” according to this proud mother — and motherhood is still one of her greatest joys.
Because she’s always loved being a mom, Nynell said as a School Board member, she understands the frustrations of parents when they come before her.
She has one more year to serve on the Atlantic City Board of Education and has not decided yet if she will run again.
“That may be too much Langford for some people,” she laughs, “if my husband decides to run for mayor again.”
During her first term of service Nynell says she has mainly “tried to make a difference” and is most proud of helping save Atlantic City High School’s FCC license for its radio station.
If the mayor does run again, she will play a major role in campaigning, because she enjoys urging people to get-out-the-vote, making them feel a part of something special and taking ownership.
“I have the disease to please,” she says. She loves creating an event, a fashion show, a musical performance, something special where people get more for their money than just a bunch of political speeches.
When I mentioned that I remembered her being in school with my sister and always forming singing groups, she replies, “In a way, I’ve always walked to the beat of my own drum. Maybe it has something to do with the name ‘Nynell’ my father made up. I’ve always felt comfortable in my own skin and could groove to my own beat.”
The eldest of five, Nynell was born in Danville, Va., but came to Atlantic City as a young girl and attended Atlantic City public schools until high school. Then, she completed two years at Holy Spirit and two at Atlantic City High, graduating in 1977.
She planned to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology, but to pursue another dream of becoming a vocal artist (she is godmother to pop vocalist Ashante), it wasn’t long before she landed in New York City singing back-up with the Howard Davis Junior Band.
After that, Lorenzo Langford came along. She got married and ended up working in the casino industry for 17 years.
Artistic in so many ways, she quickly sketched very good likenesses of Fred and Wilma Flintstone as we sat talking and it took me a while to stop laughing and get back to more serious concerns.
When I asked how difficult it is to be the wife of a political leader, because you are kind of “damned if you do and damned if you don’t,” Nynell agreed but said she’s learned over the years to do what she’s best at — campaign, coordinate events, especially for girls and women, and support the children of Atlantic City.
Every December, she orchestrates “A Time to Remember” for local mothers who’ve lost children, an event she sadly says has grown from 75 to more than 200 people.
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