Tuesday, May 13, 2o14
Cast Your Vote For Ras J. Baraka
For Mayor of Newark, New Jersey
“This day, this space, this time and this condition are exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Leadership is not born out of ambition. It’s born out of time and condition.” – Ras J. Baraka/PolitickerNJ.com
This week, Diddy is doing more than dancing. The media and music mogul is lending his influential voice to support to Newark, New Jersey’s leading mayoral candidate, Ras J. Baraka via his personal Instagram:
Meet politician Ras J. Baraka, the South Ward, Newark, New Jersey native, who is also the son of the late iconic poet and activist, Amiri Baraka. A transparent leader in his own right, Mr. Baraka, who has been a community organizer his entire life is determined to carry Newark on his back for all the right reasons.
The Howard University graduate who majored in both Political Science and History notes that his alliance to Newark stems from his family’s roots which span over 70 years in the hardened ‘Brick City.’ With such a deep legacy, its no surprise that Ras Baraka is sincerely vested into transforming Newark into space that is economically healthy, academically rich, and community safe.
Truly impressed by his track record and his commitment to reviving Newark, Mommynoire contacted Ras J. Baraka to hear why he believes he is the most prepared to be mayor.
Kay Hudson, the Deputy Editor, shares her notes from her conversation with the busy politician determined to rebuild Newark into a city that is not recognized for its imperfections, but recognized for its power.
Konnect: Why should the residents of Newark call you their mayor?
Ras Baraka: I have built a strong grassroots movement of people, schools, businesses, colleges and universities, health care institutions, organized labor and more to work together to rebuild Newark. I know that a mayor can’t change a city all by himself from the top down. I tell people that “when I become mayor, you become mayor”. I ask people to believe in Newark and in their power collectively to transform our city.
Konnect: And if you become Mayor, what core changes would you like to see during your tenure?
Ras Baraka: I would like the city to concentrate on redeveloping our neighborhoods, not just downtown, to end the culture of gangs and violence, and to help strengthen our economy to create more jobs. To transform Newark, a mayor must focus on reducing poverty.
Konnect: For those who only hear the negative about Newark, shed light on the pulse of the people who make up the city. Who are they? What is their story?
Ras Baraka: Newark is a city of extraordinary people who are struggling to provide the basics for their families. Newarkers respond passionately when asked to get involved in transforming their city. Very few are involved in the crime that dominates the attention of the news media. The people of Newark, many of them recent immigrants, are deeply involved in the life of our communities.
Mommynoire: What is your solution for the gang and gun culture that plagues Newark? Do you want to clear the trouble makers out? Or do you want to empower them through targeted support based programs?
Ras Baraka: My strategy for dealing with the gangs, Project Chill, involves more than just a police crackdown. I will mobilize the full resources of law enforcement, community leaders, our educational and health institutions and city government . We will directly meet with gang members and give them a choice: If you continue a life of crime, you will be shot dead in the street or spend most of your life in jail. But, if you put down your guns, you can rebuild your life. You will be welcomed with job and literacy training and another help you might need. This concept in endorsed by President Obama’s Department of Justice, and has worked successfully in Boston, Compton, and Minneapolis. My opponent calls that “negotiating with gangs.”
Konnect: What are your thoughts on the education climate in Newark? Can the school systems be saved? As a principal, what steps did you take to rebuild Central High School and whats steps will you take to build the rest of the endangered school system?
Ras Baraka: At the present, Governor Chris Christie is trying to shut down our neighborhood schools and turn them over to profit-making companies. I am leading the fight to stop him. As the principal of Central High School, I turned around a failing school and eliminated the gang culture and increased the graduation rate from 50% to 80%. We accomplished this by involving parents in the school, creating activities that are more appealing than gang membership. We worked with feeder schools, brought in colleges and universities to help with curriculum and to provide scholarships. We trained teachers in practices that have proven successful in other urban schools. What we accomplished at Central High School, we can accomplish in all of our schools.
Konnect: How has your father’s literary history influenced your life? What core values did he instill in you that you would like to instill into your community?
Ras Baraka: At an early age I was exposed to the arts and to the international struggle for justice and human rights. I was blessed to grow up in my household. My parents Amina and Amiri Baraka exposed me to riches that were literary and also grounded in the reality of the unfair distribution of power and wealth. My parents taught me that the only way to stop injustice is for people to join together and work collectively. All of my life I have been a community organizer.
Mommynoire: Let’s talk about your competitors. How different are your visions for Newark?
Ras Baraka: Shavar Jeffries is the candidate of Wall Street hedge fund operators and political bosses. They want to privatize our schools. They don’t care about our neighborhoods. They are not from Newark or even from New Jersey for that matter. It is so important for them to control Newark that they are spending nearly five million dollars for Jeffries. Shavar is their lapdog in every way.
Konnect: Celebrities from entertainment mogul, Diddy to filmmaker, Spike Lee are supporting you and your mission – why do you think they believe you are the man for the job?
Ras Baraka: The celebrities supporting me are those who devote their lives to fighting injustice and to building a better world for all of us. I have worked with them for years, and they know that I am about bringing people together to create change. Like myself they understand that change is possible only through collective action.
Konnect: Let’s reflect back, what was Newark like when you were growing up? How has Newark changed since then?
Ras Baraka: Newark has come long way from the aftermath of the rebellion. But we have a long way to go in rebuilding our city. Minority and immigrant business are growing, the downtown business district has attracted new businesses and our once industrial waterfront is in the process of redevelopment. Newark has made enormous strides for the very wealthy. It’s time to focus on the needs of the rest of us.
Konnect: Where do you see Newark 5 years from now?
Ras Baraka: I envision a Newark in which citizens are empowered to do for themselves and for their city. Our neighborhoods will be reborn and our local shopping districts rehabilitated. We will have a stronger economy because we will have helped our small businesses to grow. The culture of gangs will have been replaced by a culture of love of self and community.
Take a peek at some of Ras Baraka’s accomplishments on the next page:Advertisements