Attend an Event
A Mayor for All the People:
Kenneth Gibson’s Newark
A Book Talk with Robert C. Holmes and Richard W. Roper
From the Publisher:
In 1970, Kenneth Gibson was elected as Newark, New Jersey’s first African-American mayor, a position he held for an impressive sixteen years. Yet even as Gibson served as a trailblazer for black politicians, he presided over a troubled time in the city’s history, as Newark’s industries declined and its crime and unemployment rates soared.
This book, published by Rutgers University Press, offers a balanced assessment of Gibson’s leadership and his legacy, from the perspectives of the people most deeply immersed in 1970s and 1980s Newark politics: city employees, politicians, activists, journalists, educators, and even fellow big-city mayors like David Dinkins. The contributors include many of Gibson’s harshest critics, as well as some of his closest supporters, friends, and family members—culminating in an exclusive interview with Gibson himself, reflecting on his time in office.
Together, these accounts provide readers with a compelling inside look at a city in crisis, a city that had been rocked by riots three years before Gibson took office and one that Harper’s Magazine named “America’s worst city” at the start of his second term. At its heart, it raises a question that is still relevant today: how should we evaluate a leader who faced major structural and economic challenges, but never delivered all the hope and change he promised voters?
About The Editors
Robert C. Holmes is a clinical professor of law at Rutgers University. He served in the Gibson administration as executive director of the Newark Housing Development and Rehabilitation Corporation, then was later named executive director of the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation. He has also served as assistant commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and as a partner in the law firm Wilentz Goldman and Spitzer.
Richard W. Roper is a visiting associate at the Eagleton Institute of Politics and a policy consultant whose many positions in local, state, regional, and federal government agencies also included stints as director of the Program for New Jersey Affairs and assistant dean of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He later served as planning department director at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and as a senior fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government at the state University of New York.