Last Tuesday, March 12, 2019, several thousand Newarkers gathered to watch Mayor Ras Baraka’s State of the City for the year 2019, while thousands more listened or watched at home. Unlike it’s better known cousin, the State of the Union, which is given live before an audience of elected individuals and their invited guests in the grand marble of the Capitol, the State of the City is given publicly to an audience of residents of the City of Newark in the city’s largest performing arts venue. Also, unlike its federal cousin, the State of the City included not only a speech by the chief executive of this city, but performances by Newarkers and video testimonials on what’s going on here in our city. The entire program included: an introduction and welcome by a young Newarker; an invocation by a member of the clergy; a rendition of the United States national anthem by what seemed to be the youngest singer ever; a singing and interpretative dance of the classic Lift Every Voice and SIng; a poem; a video entitled “We Are Newark”; a speech by the mayor; and, finally, a closing benediction by another member of the clergy. The entire presentation clocked at over two hours.
By far, the crux of the State of the City was the speech given by Mayor Baraka. He began with an all-too-prophetic quote by Martin Luther King, Jr., admonishing us that “[h]uman progress never rolls on an inevitability.” He then shares his personal narrative of how and why he became mayor (something that would become a recurring theme throughout the speech). He migrated from topic to topic, beginning each section with a video testimonial. The sections could be broadly described as: Economic Development; Jobs; Education; Youth Leadership; Public Safety; and Quality of Life. He ended with an enthusiastic and climactic exhortation to the crowd to “Hold the Line.”
Halashon Sianipar— Halashon is a Newark resident, engineer, and former Newark Public School math teacher. He holds a BS in computer science and MAT in math. Currently, he is a board member of the Urban Cooperative Enterprise Legal Center and a member of NJ Communities United. He is dedicated to creating opportunities for people to express themselves and has written several articles on Newark.
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