In 1965, Eric, who had just left the Congress of Racial Equality to work as an organizer with the Newark Community Union Project, a militant community group of Black “community people” and Black and white “students” fighting for “no rent for rats” and “let the people decide.” In 1965, NCUP was a part of an electoral insurgency, The Freedom Ticket, independent of and to the left of the Democratic Party. This was a time of great Black electoral insurgency in a majority Black city.
In 1966, Ken Gibson, a moderate Black corporate executive, with the support of all the progressive and revolutionary Black forces, ran for Mayor and did surprisingly well. NCUP was part of this campaign and Amiri Baraka played a leading role. This led Amiri Baraka, Hilda Hidalgo, and virtually every grassroots and electoral leader in the city to form CFUN, Committee for a Unified Newark that powered Gibson to election as Newark’s first Black mayor in 1970. Amiri Baraka’s brilliant leadership of the complex and contradictory Black United Front prepared him to be chair of the 1972 Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana.
Amina Baraka was a powerful leader, a Black women’s liberation leader, and a driving force in the Congress of African People and the Black Arts Movement. She worked with Amiri, Larry Neal, Nikki Giovanni, Max Roach, and Abby Lincoln, to build the BAM, which Neal described as “the aesthetic and spiritual sister of Black Power.”
Eric lived in the South Ward during the June 1967 Black Urban Rebellion and wrote an article, “Newark: It was like a happening” to defend Black people’s right to rebellion to white middle class audiences. Eric reconnected with Amiri Baraka in Newark in 1975 and later, along with thousands of others, they were comrades in the League of Revolutionary Struggle—a Marxist/Leninist organization produced by the merger of the August 29th Movement, I Work Kuen, and the Congress of African People/Revolutionary Communist League. Amiri Baraka was a public representative of the LRS. Today, the Labor/Community Strategy Center and its Strategy and Soul Movement Center, located at 3546 Martin Luther King right across from the Crenshaw Plaza, is impacted by many historical forces including the Black Arts Movement that is alive and well in our bookstore, film theater, and organizing work.
We are so excited to view, learn, and publicize Why is We Americans?
Please join us for this historic evening.