“Once he was just a rowdy kid in the freshman dorm spouting some of his Pop’s radical poetry.” On the first day of the protest, the Post story reported, Baraka confided to a fellow protestor: “If we can hold it till tonight, this thing will make national news. Ras Baraka remembers what happened next in snippets, edited and deleted by trauma and time: “Before you know it, the police had opened up the door … and grabbed my father,” he recalls. Heated words were exchanged. Their grievance was the recent appointment of Lee Atwater to the board of trustees of the prominent black university. As a councilman, he remained an outspoken critic of police misconduct. On June 7, 1997, a friendly backyard card game with his neighbors was interrupted when some friends burst in with news: “They just killed Strawberry.”. It was then Baraka got serious. The officer in the Daniels shooting was cleared by a grand jury and returned to active duty. In 2019, Baraka married political consultant Linda Jumah, who was sentenced to home confinement and probation for tax evasion in 2018. The next year, Ahi would lead student protests of his own, demanding increased funding for public schools. Newark’s current population is about 50% Black, just as it was during the riots of 1967, when the mayor’s famous father, Amiri Baraka, was severely beaten and jailed. Additional support for NJTV News is made possible by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, PSEG Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation, the E.J. By his own admission, he was equally dedicated to partying as he was to activism in his freshman year. I remember my mother went around and tried to help him.” The young boy was terrified: “I got out of the car and ran.”, The entire family was taken to the police station. Part of HuffPost Black Voices. “My mother got boisterous and loud … ‘Where’s my son?’” Baraka recalls. In 1994, Baraka, then 24, ran for mayor. Daily News Digest. Mayor Ras Baraka says his father, the famed poet and activist Amiri Baraka, was involved in the riots. Kean weighs in on a federal COVID-19 Commission, New law on police body cameras could come with a hefty price tag. He was a Newarker to his core … Because he chose to fight here, so do I.”. But the father knew it was a perilous path his son was taking, and all the pitfalls therein. (Freedom Organization for Racial and Cultural Enlightenment), which met every Friday night on campus. All rights reserved. He was now fully engaged in his father’s fight, and he was finding his own voice. His father, the late Amiri Baraka, was a legendary poet and playwright. “It was the first and one of the most scary protests I’ve ever been involved in.”. He wanted to be just like Miles Davis. There was one in particular that stood out. “Those who know him say his activism has come alive only in the past year or so,” according to an account in the Washington Post. Mayor of Newark, New Jersey. I think it was talked about in many households in Newark, period, and particularly in my household. Strawberry was Dannette Daniels, a 31-year-old woman in the neighborhood, well-known and well-liked. Baraka's son Jua Nyamekye Imamu Kofi Baraka was born in 2019 . In the end, it was the university administration who blinked. “Justice for everybody else and justice for the police.”. It was another rite of passage for the young activist: his first arrest and first beating by police. Who denounced that world and became Amiri Baraka, a rhythmic and militant voice of the black nationalism movement in the ’60s and ’70s. My parents had pulled over to have an argument. As a 19-year-old junior at Howard, Baraka led a protest of hundreds of students, which culminated in the takeover of the school’s administration building. I don’t care what he did,” Baraka said. … that I got up there and ruined it.”, Ras Baraka, now 50 and mayor of Newark, has spent a lifetime processing that event, along with his own run-ins with Newark cops. ‍ Larry Hamm is founder of the People’s Organization for Progress (POP) which held a rally yesterday to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. ©2020 Verizon Media. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) Ras was once the personification of his father’s Sisyphus. Major funding for NJTV News provided by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, New Jersey Education Association, New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group, Orsted, PSEG Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and RWJ Barnabas Health. He is the son of Amiri Baraka and Amina Baraka. Promotional support provided by New Jersey Business Magazine. The mayor, whose father Amiri Baraka was once the state poet laureate, just released the video that was filmed last November. "My father was an incredible man. Atwater, chairman of the Republican National Committee was also George H.W. After graduating from Howard in 1991 and earning a master’s degree from St. Peters University in 1994, Baraka started his career as a schoolteacher in Newark. During his emotional eulogy, Ras Baraka responded: “He supported me, not just because I am his son, but because we are right … My father loved this city of ours. But “I never felt safe sharing my poetry in the school or in the community,” he said. His mother Anna Lois (née Russ) was a social worker. Baraka realized that day that holding police accountable in Newark was going to be a long, tough battle. “Ras knew that this generation would need a different type of organizing than his father’s. Ras Baraka on reforms to bring communities and police closer together. ©2020 NJ SPOTLIGHT NEWS, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. The structure and tone of the meetings were influenced by Nation of Islam and the Black Panthers, while at the same time resembled his father’s gatherings in Newark. Now, four decades later, Baraka — as the mayor of Newark — must own the police department that he and his father had censured for decades. MY EARLIEST ENCOUNTER with the police happened at the age of ten. And “I’ve been on Go ever since,” he says. Jelani Cobb, who is now a journalism professor at Columbia University, participated in the sit-in and remembers the elder Baraka articulating a bigger picture: “He encouraged our efforts, reminded us that students have always been key to movements for social reform, and connected our protest to broader historical currents and to older struggles for justice,” Cobb wrote in The New Yorker. “There’s violence that happens in our community, and there’s violence that happens to our community,” Baraka says. So I think [my father's] impact, even on my personal life, has been great.". Views expressed by our advertisers and sponsors are their own, and are not endorsed by NJ Spotlight News. RAS BARAKA: Yes, absolutely. “My mother was screaming … They began to thump him and wrestle with him. It chronicled another seminal moment — his leap into high-stakes activism. Amiri Baraka, Newark Poet and Activist, Dead at 79 - Newark, NJ - Former state poet laureate is father of mayoral candidate Ras Baraka. Credit: The Hilltop, Howard University's student newspaper, courtesy of NYU Press, Lawmakers agree on marijuana legalization bill but differ on tax-revenue constitutional amendment, NJ certifies results for record 4.64M voters — with no fuss, no muss, LIVE UPDATES: Tracking the coronavirus in New Jersey. Baraka established Newark’s Committee on Violence, served as a key organizer for the Newark Ceasefire Peace Initiative in 2004, and is a founding member and served as chairman of the historic 1st National Hip Hop Political Convention. Foreshadowing his path toward politics, Baraka was elected as vice president of the Howard University Student Association. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka is sounding the alarm as cases in the city rise to levels not seen since the height of the pandemic back in April. Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost's next chapter, Famous Playwrights And Their TV Soulmates. Baraka the activist immediately engaged. “For years, there’s been two types of justice,” Baraka says today. “I looked at them as an occupying force.” It would become the central theme of his activism throughout the ’90s. We had invited Amiri Baraka to the conference, but we know Ras will represent his father with eloquence as will his widow, Amina. His son, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, who confirmed his father's death to the public last year, joined HuffPost Live last week and reflected on his powerful legacy. “The Baraka family is revolutionary royalty and Black nobility and they will never forget where they came from.”, Then, poet Jessica Care Moore posed this poignant question about the city’s most famous poet: “He created this fire,” she said. Policing in America Ras Baraka on reforms to bring communities and police closer together. The mayor told the story of how his father, writer, poet and activist Amiri Baraka, was beaten by the police in 1967 during the uprising in Newark. Even back before the Mayor was born. His mother, Amina Baraka, is herself a renowned poet. A relentless current of poetry, jazz and spirited discourse swirled throughout Ras Baraka’s childhood home in Newark in the 1970s. Scores of police officers showed up, wearing T-shirts reading “The Blue Crew.” The scene was tense and it was hostile. Baraka is the father of three daughters Amandla, Assata, Raisa . If that isn't a defense of the advertising industry, we don't know what is. In addition, the song continues the work of his famous activist father, Amiri Baraka. In 2005, he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the city council. And he learned that Newark is still recovering from those five tragic days. ... “A Mayor That’s Radical”: Newark Mayor Ras Baraka Reflects on His Poet Father & 1st Year in Office. He started a dorm-room meeting group, which in 1987 would provide security for Public Enemy when they visited the campus. And he had yet to learn of the historic Newark Riots of 1967, which predated his birth by three years but shaped his destiny. Doting husband, and … Ras J. Baraka is the 40th Mayor of the City of Newark. On Jan. 9, 2014, Amiri Baraka died. Atwater resigned from the Howard board. He was a Newarker to his core … Because he chose to fight here, so do I.” Al Sharpton; his father was his campaign manager and he was referred to in the press as “the hip-hop candidate.” He lost to incumbent Sharpe James; but in Newark, his voice was getting louder and stronger. Baraka again gained attention two years later, when he helped broker a truce between the Bloods and the Crips gangs in Newark. He was demanding the officer be fired, that there be an investigation, that the city finally create a civilian review board — “the usual stuff,” he recalls. The police beat my father. Ras Baraka is a man of action, but he doesn't act on the beliefs of Farrakhan (or even those of his father). He held these rallies every Monday for weeks. I watched my father being beaten by officers as my siblings and I sat in the back seat of a car. Kirby Foundation, the Hyde and Watson Foundation, and the Union Foundation. He was previously a member of the Municipal Council of Newark and the principal of the city's Central High School until he took an indefinite leave of absence to run for the 2014 Newark mayoral election, which he won on May 13, 2014. ... His father, the late Amiri Baraka, was a legendary poet and playwright. Promotional support provided by InsiderNJ. Ras Baraka, one of the sons of the late poet and playwright Amiri Baraka, handily beat rival Shavar Jeffries to become the next mayor of his father’s city, Newark, N.J. He learned how his father had been arrested, severely beaten and jailed. His son, Ras Baraka, is the current mayor of Newark. He transformed that group into a formidable student activist organization — Sons and Daughters of Panthers, later renamed Black Nia F.O.R.C.E. ... His father, the late Amiri Baraka, was a legendary poet and playwright. Our parents will know.”. He was unbought. NJ Spotlight exists in part thanks to generous foundation support, including our founding funders the Community Foundation of New Jersey, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the William Penn Foundation -- as well as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Fund for New Jersey, the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, and the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, and the Nicholson Foundation. In 2013, Baraka decided to run for the office Mayor Cory Booker was leaving prematurely after winning a special election for a U.S. Senate seat. How he came to this place makes complete sense. The next month, the university’s president resigned. Amiri Baraka’s son was finding his footing in a new movement, this one propelled by an emerging hip-hop generation. When Mayor Sharpe James came out to address the crowd, the police officers turned their backs on the mayor in unison. It would mark the end of his innocence and the beginning of his own political awakening. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka Remembers His Father Amiri Baraka's 'Incredible' Legacy. Then there's the overt link: Don Draper fled his hometown of Bunbury for a new life, a nod to the code word Wilde's male leads coin in "The Important Of Being Earnest" to reference their duplicity. He began running for mayor of Newark two decades ago at 24. But there was still another defining moment to come. In my remarks, we (I and co-producer Kim McMillan) invited Ras and his mother, Amina Baraka, to the upcoming University of California, Merced Black Arts Movement Conference, February 28 to March 1-2. In 2019, Jumah was accused of assaulting Baraka's teenage daughter in a domestic dispute at the mayor's home . The group’s philosophy was shaped, they said, by Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan — a wide variety, indeed. But Amiri Baraka was never one to defer to cops. Baraka started writing poetry when he was in high school. The mayor remembered his father's brave work, which championed the black experience and was notoriously divisive amongst critics. “I grew up in a household that was different than what was going on … The poetry they was teaching us in school never sounded like the poetry I heard from my Dad.”. Jan. 18, 2014: Ras Baraka delivered a eulogy at the funeral for his late father, poet-activist Amiri Baraka. And he would come to discover who his father was before that — a world-renowned beat poet and playwright, whose given name was LeRoi Jones. Ras Baraka didn’t realize it then, but that frightening day in Greenwich Village in the summer of 1979 was his unintended introduction to the Baraka family business — a business that traded in poetry, music and shoe leather as its currency; an enterprise of protest that strategically zeroed in on police brutality, the front line in the war  on racial injustice in America. He was outstanding, and the kind of impact that he's had on Newark is going to be felt for centuries," Ras told host Marc Lamont Hill. But Amiri Baraka had reached out to Mayor Sharpe James. His father Coyt Leroy Jones worked as a postal supervisor and lift operator. "People don't necessarily believe or can't see that. Foundation father Baraka Stewart, whose son Braylan is an 8th grader at Eagle Harlem, recently fielded some questions from Charlie Hanger, digital content manager for The Foundation. The next year, he ran for a city council seat and lost. He organized a series of protests, marches on City Hall. He was unbossed,” Dr. Cornel West said at the service. “I felt like … I did a disservice to the case. He was endorsed by the Rev. Poet, playwright and professor Amiri Baraka was an important figure in the Black Arts Movement, known for his firey and outspoken demeanor before his death in 2014. Mayor Ras Baraka continued urgently ringing the alarm bell this morning in COVID-19 ravaged Newark, which stands back where it was in April and May when the virus gripped the city, suffering a 19% test positivity rate, and 35% in one area. Police were loading the car, with Strawberry’s body still inside, onto a flat-bed tow truck, he recalls. A child who witnessed the uprising from his front porch, Hamm became more involved in combating police brutality in the early 1970’s after he became associated with the future mayor’s father, the late poet-activist Amira Baraka, who wanted a civilian company review board to oversee the police. Jan. 18, 2014: Ras Baraka delivered a eulogy at the funeral for his late father, poet-activist Amiri Baraka. In 1988, he attended the National Democratic Convention, which his father was barred from entering. As a young boy, Ras did not see these people as celebrities; they were houseguests. Ras Baraka is the Mayor of Newark New Jersey. By July, though, … They dropped officers on the roof, who  cut open a hole for entry, and rappelled inside, Baraka recalls. He also became the city’s most vocal and visible activist. Mayor Ras J. Baraka and Larry Hamm go way back. "Some of the problems that we have can begin being addressed by art," Ras said. WHEN Ras Baraka was elected Newark’s mayor in 2014, the business world was worried. “By that time, I had already solidified what I had thought about police,” Baraka said. When Baraka and friends arrived at the scene, a sizeable crowd had gathered and it felt like a near-riot situation. Mayor James noticed and promptly made him deputy mayor. Baraka recalls his parents, Amiri and Amina Baraka “arguing about shoes.” It was the type of quarrel families have, he said — “who liked them, who didn’t like them, how much they cost — stuff I would probably argue with my wife about now.”, His father pulled over and parked the car on a Greenwich Village street. According to a subsequent Ledger story, Amiri Baraka said of that evening’s events: “When I arrived at the precinct, my one son was locked up, the 15-year-old was chained to a radiator and two negroes were wrestling with my wife.” The elder Baraka intervened, leading to his arrest as well. Ras J. Baraka is the 40th Mayor of the City of Newark. He was forced to take the stand and face questioning from an aggressive prosecutor, who tripped the boy up on his recall of minor details. He was concerned about the apathy of his generation, that the Black movement his father and others had led in the ’60s and ’70s was foundering. From his earliest days of street protest, Newark’s mayor has echoed many of the same themes as his poet-activist father Amiri Baraka, none more so than the necessity for police reform. It would unfold in an unexpected episode that would thrust the 9-year-old boy directly into his father’s orbit. Today is National Voter Registration Day! He preached the same sermon he preaches today — education, employment and equity. But after he started Black Nia FO.R.C.E, he was all in. Story Oct 01, 2019. Amiri Baraka was convicted and served some time in Riker’s Island before the conviction was overturned. The Baraka family business has relocated inside the walls of power. More than 3,000 people jammed Symphony Hall for his funeral. The sit-in did last the night, and then two more days after that, and it did become national news. Like his father, Baraka has a reputation as a firebrand. Now he’s beloved by conspiracy trolls, How NJ Republicans view Trump’s allegations of ballot fraud, Former Gov. The mayor of Newark, NJ, Ras Baraka, drew on his talents as a poet and spoken word artist to explain the demands of people thronging the streets of American cities to protest the police killing of George Floyd in a prescient video recorded late last year called “What We Want.”. 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