NEWARK PUBLIC LIBRARY IS HOSTING A NEW EXHIBIT COMMEMORATING THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE NEWARK REBELLION
Published June 27, 2017 | Newswire
Newark Public Library is hosting a new exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Newark Rebellion
The Newark Public Library has mounted a new exhibition, Voices from the Rebellion, examining the causes, events, and impact of five days of rebellion by the African American community in Newark in July 1967, marking the 50th anniversary of events that continue to be felt to this day.
The exhibit, curated by librarian Thomas Ankner and scholar Peter Blackmer, is on view on the first floor of the Main Library at 5 Washington Street, Newark, through August 26th. A symposium will be held in conjunction with the exhibit on Saturday, July 15th, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.
The exhibit is a joint project of the Newark Public Library and the Center for Education and Juvenile Justice, the sponsor of The North: Civil Rights and Beyond in Urban America, a digital archive of stories of resistance in urban centers. The first digital archive created for the project was Newark, under the direction of activist, Abbot Leadership Institute Executive Director Junius Williams. Newark History Society is a cosponsor of the exhibit.
“The events of five days in July 1967 continue to be deeply felt by our friends and neighbors in Newark,” noted library director Jeffrey Trzeciak. “Voices from the Rebellion is able to simultaneously look at the large forces that were at work in our city and our nation, forces of institutional racism, the flight of businesses and families to suburbs, and the rising calls for economic and political empowerment, while at the same time presenting the actions of individuals and local institutions.”
The Newark Community Union Project (NCUP) Police Brutality March across Broad and Market Street in Newark, NJ, 1965. Credit: Doug Eldridge Collection
Williams who is producer of The North, said the rebellion was a “breaking point” for Black and Latino Newarkers who were fed up with bearing up under the intense pressure of racism, both in the form of racist policies and everyday oppression.
“It is imperative that we preserve the historic record of this event with firsthand accounts and other primary sources, learn from it, and use its lessons to improve our present and future,” said Williams. “The North is grateful to have the Newark Public Library as one of our partners in pursuing this important mission via the Voices from the Rebellion exhibit.”
The 1967 Newark rebellion was rooted in years of institutional racism. For decades, African Americans from the South had been coming to Newark as part of the Great Migration, seeking employment and opportunity, but were met with widespread discrimination in housing, education, healthcare, and employment. African Americans were also met with police brutality.
The migration of African Americans to Newark and other northern cities coincided with the growth of suburbs, and many white residents and white-owned businesses of Newark left the city for the growing suburbs of northern New Jersey, particularly after World War II.
By 1967, Newark was a majority black city, but political power remained in the hands of whites. Only two African Americans served as members of the city council, and many residents had grown impatient with a moderate approach to racial equality.
African Americans had been actively organizing in Newark and other northern cities, to gain an equal share in economic, political, and social power structures. Black communities in Newark protested discrimination in housing, employment, education, and law enforcement, but by the 1960s those protests were met with hostile resistance from City Hall and law enforcement agencies. Other cities, facing similar issues, erupted into violence in the years before 1967.
Voices from the Rebellion traces the underlying causes, the events immediately before July 12, 1967, that provided the spark, and the immediate aftermath of the violence. The exhibition concludes with an examination of the ongoing effects of the unrest on Newark.
Some images in the exhibit are from the collection of the Newark Public Library. Others are archival images from other repositories, made available by arrangement with The North, and can be viewed online at riseupnewark.com.
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