Meeting Of The Mayors: Marty Walsh Meet Ras Baraka
By: Jamarhl Crawford, Blackstonian Publisher/Editor
I am sure the two have at least crossed paths at the various meetings of the US Conference of Mayors from across the country. The last meeting was just recently held June 19-22 in San Francisco, California. What I want to strongly suggest however is a deep and meaningful relationship between these two Mayors in particular. During the campaign for Mayor of Boston much ado was made about the final two contenders both being White, Irish and Catholic. Somehow this was looked at as further confirmation of “white rule” in Boston and many, myself included, were very concerned with how a newly elected white male Mayor would be able to hear from and deliver services to a “New Boston” which is now a so-called “minority” majority city.
I have known Ras Baraka for some time. Mainly as the son of Legendary Author/Poet/Playwright/Activist Amiri Baraka who was a pivotal figure all at once in both the Black Power and Black Arts movements. Amiri Baraka further pushed the threshold of Black Power/Arts and Activism into the realm of Politics as one of the key organizers of the 1st National Black Political Convention which convened 1972 in Gary, Indiana and produced the 1st National Black Agenda. Amiri Baraka is also a contemporary of fellow Black Arts movement architect Askia Toure here in Boston and additionally, famed group “The Last Poets” counts Amiri Baraka as one of their mentors.
Ras Baraka comes from a strong and proud tradition which is the culmination of politics, activism, education, arts and community advocacy. It was no surprise to any of us to see Ras Baraka emerging on the national scene as a consistent, committed and authentic Black leader. Ras has been deep in the trenches of Newark for the past several decades. Beginning as a teacher, then quickly rising to principle Baraka was featured in the Sundance docu-series “Brick City” along with Cory Booker who ascended from City Council to Mayor and now Congress.
Mayor Walsh could learn alot from Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and should take note in a few areas. Walsh has thus far done a good job on diversifying city positions and now is a great time to diversify the pool of ideas and strategies to deliver tangible results. Newark, New Jersey has a unique Mayor in Ras Baraka and we should open the door to share strategies on similar issues around policing, education, violence and community engagement.
Here are a few examples that Boston should look at.
** Mayor Ras Baraka – Introduces the newest and what is already being called one of the strongest national models for a Civilian Review Board
Newark Civilian Complaint Review Board
With stroke of a pen, long-awaited civilian review board becomes reality in Newark April 30, 2015
** Mayor Ras Baraka – Gang Summit
Newark’s Mayor Meets One-on-One With Gangs to Forge Peace
With less than six months in office, Mayor Ras Baraka is trying some nontraditional methods to stop the violence in his city.
** Mayor Ras Baraka – 24 hrs of Peace (2015 will be the 5th Annual 24 hours of peace festival)
From the 2014 24 Hours of Peace