Economic and Social Changes to Newark Since 1967 Riots Subject of Symposium

By John Abbott, WBGO News
Newark. April 11, 2013

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Prof. David Troutt moderates discussion at "Newark 45 Years After Unrest -- History, Development & Prospects"

The symposium “Newark 45 Years After Unrest, -- History, Development & Prospects”  presented at the Rutgers Law School focused upon how the Brick City changed socially and economically since the 1967 riots.

Documentary filmmaker and panelist Jerome Bongiorno, whose 2007 film “Revolution ’67” examined the riots incited by the alleged killing of a Black taxi driver named John Smith by two white police offcers,  says job creation is the critical issue.

"Iit’s an emergency. It’s like the Depression of the 20s and 30s, where people are suffering and you can’t wait for businesses to move themselves in…you can’t wait for a developer,  you can’t wait for store owners. That’s what City Hall needs to do for Newark to get the people out of its misery:  28 per cent poverty rate—is to create jobs." 

Marylou Tibaldo-Bongiorno, who collarborated on the film with her husband, says "We need to know the reasons why the city erupted then, why riots are happening, why the Occupy movement is happening. Those questions have to asked and if we don’t know our history then we’re condemned to repeat all the mistakes."

But Professor Clement Price says there has been progress: "We now know about public policy, or the absence of public policy, we now know a whole lot more about how race works then we did, say, in the in the 1960s, and we know that  the decade was a decade of extraordinary upheaval."

Price added the panel "some real glimmers that the city has turned some important corners in economic development, and dealing with race relations in a meaningful way, and perhaps most importantly, Newark—as everybody knows-- is about to change again, and it now anticipates changes.”

Councilwoman-at-large Mildred Crump, who praised the law school for presenting the forum, notes the voice of the community was absent.

"The element that was missing from this panel was the community. We needed to have people from the community to speak to the issue," she says.

Moderated by Professor David Troutt, the panel also included Laurel Dumont, Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Collaborativer Change; Ray Ocaiso, Executive Director of La Casa de don Pedro;and Adam Zipkin, Newark's Deputy Mayor.

The symposium was sponsored by the Rutgers Race & Law Review.


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