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Evaluating Ken Gibson’s Legacy

The 1970 election of Gibson brought with it the promise of a new day for Newark’s black community, as a new plateau of Black Power had been reached. Once the fanfare of the election had died down, though, questions remained about how the newly elected African American mayor and city councilmen would deal with the many problems facing the city and work toward Black equality and empowerment. As Gibson walked a political tightrope between the radical movement that put him into power and the establishment politicians and white communities that remained powerful in the city, struggles remained. The ways that Gibson navigated this difficult political terrain are important to analyze for the valuable insights they offer into the possibilities and limitations of seeking Black liberation through elected officials.

We asked activists, organizers, and politicians who were part of this history for their evaluation of Ken Gibson’s Administration. Watch this video to see how they responded.