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In the Garden State: Ras Baraka, Son of Amiri Baraka, Grows Up to be Mayor of the City of Newark

By Harriet Staff


Congratulations to Ras Baraka: Mayor of the City of Newark!!! Read all about his campaign and his victory, right here right now, at The Nation.

The election-night victory party for Ras Baraka, the new mayor of Newark, New Jersey, took place on May 13, at a hotel in the city’s gradually reviving downtown. Jubilant union volunteers in blue T-shirts from the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) flooded the ballroom. High-schoolers from the Newark Students Union, who are at war with an unpopular, state-appointed school superintendent, clustered at tables with their organizer-chaperones. At the podium, former New Jersey governor Richard Codey and the mayor of Jersey City, Steven Fulop, stood close to Baraka, basking in the vindication of their gamble to back him, in calculated defiance of the state’s Democratic machine power brokers.

On each table, meanwhile, someone had placed copies of a special edition of Unity & Struggle, the pamphlet started by Baraka’s father, the author and activist Amiri Baraka, who died on January 9. “POET ON!” screamed the headline, above a sharp late text by the elder Baraka excoriating white supremacy as the “real terrorism.”

The forces in the ballroom that evening gave a good indication of the energies that drove Baraka’s insurgent campaign and the expectations that greet him as he takes office on July 1. Newark is New Jersey’s largest city, with 280,000 residents, and one of New York City’s closest satellites. Tucked in the Jersey marshes, just eight miles from Manhattan, the city faces issues of poverty, crime and corruption that have marred its reputation for decades. The administration of Cory Booker, from 2006 to 2013, drew national attention but disappointed Newark progressives. Working with New Jersey governor Chris Christie, the telegenic Booker helped attract development and corporate offices to Newark’s downtown, and convinced Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to gift $100 million to the schools. […]

Learn more about Ras Baraka’s victory at The Nation.

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Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 by Harriet Staff.