- Cheryl Washington, Princess Gadson, Kevin Goins – Contributing Writers/Editors
- Angelo Ellerbee – President/Founder, Double XXposure Media Relations
Newark, NJ native
The legacy continues with Ras Baraka, the Mayor of Newark NJ. Baraka was born on April 9, 1969 in Newark, New Jersey to writer and playwright Amiri Baraka and poet Amina Baraka. He received his B.A. degree in political science from Howard University in 1991; and earned his M.A. degree in education supervision from St. Peter’s University in Jersey City in 1994. Prior to his political career, Baraka worked as an English and history teacher for Newark Public Schools. In 1994, at the age of twenty-four, Baraka ran for mayor of Newark, New Jersey, but was defeated by Sharpe James. Baraka was elected as Council Member At-Large on the Municipal Council of Newark in 2005. From 2007 to 2013, Baraka served as the principal of Central High School in Newark. He was re-elected as a South Ward Council Member in 2010, a position he held until 2014. In July of 2014, Baraka became Newark’s 40th mayor, on a platform of improving the city’s public school system, economic growth, and criminal justice reform. Baraka was recently re-elected to a second term as Mayor of Newark NJ.
Newark NJ native
The legacy continues with departed poet, author and playwright Amiri Baraka, who was born Everett LeRoi Jones on October 7, 1934, in Newark, New Jersey. After developing an interest in poetry and jazz in high school, Baraka attended Howard University, where he changed his name to LeRoi James. He earned his degree in English in 1954, and then joined the United States Air Force. After his discharge, Baraka then moved to Manhattan, where, in addition to attending Columbia University and The New School, he became a prominent artist in the Greenwich Village scene and befriended Beat poets such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. He published their and other poets’ work in the newly founded Totem Press. In 1961, Baraka published his first major collection of poetry, Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note. His 1964 play, The Dutchman, which addressed racial tensions and American blacks’ repressed hostility toward whites, gained him fame and acclaim. After a trip to Cuba, Baraka disassociated with the apolitical Beat movement in favor of addressing racial politics. The assassination of Malcolm X was a turning point in his life. Afterward, he disavowed his old life and changed his name to Amiri Baraka. He became a Black nationalist, moved to Harlem and founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School. The company dissolved after a few months, however, and Bakara moved back to Newark and founded the Spirit House Players. Baraka fully immersed himself in Newark, becoming a leader of the city’s African American community. A prolific writer, Baraka has penned more than 50 books, including fiction, music criticism, essays, short stories, poetry and plays. In 1984, he published The Autobiography of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka. He taught at many universities, including the New School for Social Research, San Francisco State University and Yale University. Before retirement, he served as professor emeritus of Africana Studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook for 20 years. Baraka died on January 9, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey at the age of 79.