Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Last Prophet Minister and The 1967 Newark Rebellion...Memories: RBG Moments In Black History

RBGz " Last Revolutionary Higher Education" Website
"The Beautiful Struggle, The Revolution is Here"

This RBG Website is a Tribute to My First Political Science Teacher, Dr. Amiri Baraka

As I am a Native of Newark, N.J., Dr. Baraka was one of my first and most influential Leaders and Teachers: I attended his school (The NewArk School) and was a member of his Cultural Nationalist Organization (Kawaida) as a young lad of 15.

Well known to be the "Most Important Living Black Poet" every since the 1960s", Dr. Baraka is the engine behind "my revolution computer art and scholastic pursuits".


The 1967 Newark Rebellion was a major civil disturbance that occurred in the city of Newark, New Jersey between July 12 and July 17 1967. Although referred to in the popular media as riots, we in the Black community, then and today, realize the event as a genuine rebellion against oppression. I was only 9 year old at the time so I really didn't know what was going on. However, I can still see the Troops driving through my neighborhood, not being able to go to the store or leave the back yard and having to be in the house at 6:00pm. I also remember my parents talking about how they would have the Black National Guard out with the White ones only during the day. At night it was only the White ones, shottin up the projects.

I was living on 6th Street and South Orange Avenue; with my mother, father and 2 brothers and 3 sisters. I was the oldest at 12. My area was a part of the heart the happenings. As I got old enough to learn what happen I found out that in the period leading up to the rebellion, several factors led our residents to feel powerless and disenfranchised. In particular we had been largely excluded from any say in city politics and completely lacked political representation and often suffered police brutality. Furthermore, unemployment, abject poverty, and concerns about low-quality housing contributed to the tinder-box. Yes, we lived in an attic apartment, my dad was a day laborer and mom wasn't working, I had 6 younger brothers and sisters and we all slept in the same room...but what the hell did I know.

This ongoing oppression came to a head when a Black cab driver named John Smith was arrested for illegally passing a double-parked police car and brutally beaten by police who accused him of resisting arrest. A crowd gathered outside the police station where he was detained, and a rumor was started that he had been killed while in police custody. (Actually he had been moved to City Hospital.)

This set off six days of burning, looting, violence, and destruction — ultimately leaving 23 Black people dead, 725 people injured, and close to 1,500 arrested. Property damage exceeded $10 million. For about two weeks we were living under Marshall Law, every evening at 6 p.m. the Bridge Street and Jackson Street Bridges (both of which span the Passaic River between Newark and Harrison) were closed until the next morning.

1967, Life Magazine. Billy Furr loots a case of soda
a few minutes before he was shot and killed by Newark, N.J. police

The rebellion is often cited in the white media as a major factor in the decline of Newark and its neighboring white communities, as many of the city's white residents immediately fled to the suburbs. However, it was only after the rebellion that political inclusion and representation of the Black community became manifest and Black Power began to spring forth from Newark. The 1967 Plainfield Rebellion occurred during the same period in Plainfield, New Jersey, a town about 18 miles southwest of Newark.

For Further Research and Study: http://www.67riots.rutgers.edu/

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