Guest Column

Fifty years after the Newark riots, residents (mostly) optimistic about the future

47041a6aa4dd5c74180e_levonputney1200x800.jpg
Levon Putney purchased his home for $30,000 in the Central Ward less than a mile from where the Newark riots began in 1967. Credits: Mark J. Bonamo
289595d7ccbaa69ed946_Marisa-Vaccari-Pedulla1200x900.jpg
Marisa Vaccari Pedulla, a fourth-generaton Newarker, in front of her home in the city's Forest Hill neighborhood.
47041a6aa4dd5c74180e_levonputney1200x800.jpg

Less than a mile from where the Newark riots began in 1967, Levon Putney tends to a small garden of oregano and cilantro in the alley of his modest home on South Jacob Street in the city’s Central Ward.

“I knew from the news business where I was when I bought this house five years ago,” said Putney, 43, the overnight news anchor for a prominent New York City radio station. “The riots are interesting. But they’re not going to stop people from coming here.”

For fifty years, Newark has been trying to plant the seeds of its revival in ground blighted by blood and ashes from the 1967 unrest. For those who are now moving to Newark, and for those who chose to stay, there is a distinct opportunity to build a burgeoning community, finally ready to bloom.

Putney, hoping to own a home when he moved from Jersey City, didn’t mind cleaning the syringes out of his newly bought vacant house. The opportunity was just too good.

“Don’t get mad now, but I bought this house for $30,000,” said Putney, smiling as he described the benefits of getting a Federal Housing Administration loan. “All the folks on this block own their homes. I'm not the only one who got a good deal and who is taking advantage of it.”

Erin Sweeney, 33, a native of rural Sussex County in far northwestern New Jersey, opted for city living six years ago. She has looked at Newark as her portal to the world ever since her childhood, when she went to the airport to fly out for family vacations.

She now works as the executive director for the Newark branch of Schools Than Can, a national non-profit organization that works to improve education in public, charter and private schools.

Paying $2,000 a month for a large one-bedroom apartment in the Eleven80 apartment building diagonally across from Military Park in downtown Newark, she knows she has a good rent deal compared to friends who live in Jersey City and Manhattan. But she wonders how long her good deal will last.

“I look at [the One Theater square luxury apartments] going up down the block, and I know I can't afford that,” Sweeney said. “I hope I don’t wind up getting priced out, because I’m excited about what’s happening here.”

Meanwhile, Sweeney expresses her safety concerns about living downtown simply.

“I don’t know if I should do yoga in the park before or after I go to Starbucks,” Sweeney said. “Now that could be dangerous.”

Crime was not on Tehsuan Glover’s mind when he moved from Newark’s South Ward, known for its relatively high crime rate, to Teachers Village. Instead, it was about convenience.

“I found myself to be in downtown Newark much more frequently because of my job,” said Glover, 37, the publisher of The Newark Times, an online, Newark-focused media organization. “I guess I’m part of the millennial trend – I want to rest my head where I work and play.”

“Revitalization can do a greater good if there are sustainable checks and balances on the process. Then the other wards will grow more and more attractive,” Glover added. “If not, the loud voice that says Newark still has a stigma will be the jacket that the city is going to continue to wear.”

Newark fits Marisa Vaccari Pedulla like a glove. It should – she’s a fourth-generation Newarker. Her Italian immigrant family settled in the city’s North Ward and had old-school jobs over the years such as fruit peddler, public school teacher and silver spinner at the former Tiffany jewelry factory in the city.

Now, Pedulla, 31, has a new-school job – she’s a product marketer at high-tech Audible. To get to her job, she takes a 20-minute Newark light rail ride downtown. And she leaves every weekday morning from the home she recently bought with her husband in the Forest Hill section in the same North Ward where her family has lived for more than 100 years.

“This was not a hard sell. We fell in love with the neighborhood all over again,” said Pedulla about the purchase of her five-bedroom home. “Jersey City was out of our price scope. But people should be in Newark because they really want to be in the city. My family was not part of the exodus after 1967. And now we’re building on the roots that my family already put down.”

The view from other parts of Newark points to a social fabric that is still badly torn.

Denise Williams, a South Ward resident, was visiting her relatives at a housing project in the Central Ward on Livingston Street between 17th and 18th Avenue earlier this summer. Her relatives live one block from where the exact spot were Newark ruptured 50 summers ago.

“We still need a lot of help out here,” said Williams, 37, watching her nephews gleefully shoot each other with water guns on the same streets where in 1967 real guns did real damage. “All these killings are real. Drug selling is real. And a lot of these kids have to fend for themselves. But it’s people that cause these problems to happen, not Newark itself. The riot is over. But people are still rioting within themselves.”

“Newark is in worse shape now than in 1967 considering that the poverty rate in 1967 was 18 percent and today it’s nearly a third of our city,” said Marylou Bongiorno, a Newark resident who together with her husband Jerome Bongiorno made the critically-acclaimed documentary Revolution ’67.

"If we don’t reduce the poverty in Newark, no amount of building in the downtown or extra police is going to improve the city,” she said. “And if Ferguson and Baltimore can erupt into riots, then Newark, with a far higher poverty rate, can easily do the same.”

Then again, even for those locked into a cycle of violence, the events of 1967 lack immediacy.

“You tell some Bloods and Crips gang members about 1967, they don’t want to hear it,” said lifetime Newark resident Rasheed Mason, 34. “They can’t believe tanks rolled down Springfield Avenue.”

During an event to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Newark riots at Abyssinian Baptist Church, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, the keynote speaker, gave the crowd a seminar about Newark history and the state of urban America.

He reminded the crowd that to him, what happened in 1967 was a rebellion, not a riot. Its purpose – to let democracy, powered by the people, address issues such as poverty, economic disparity, access to quality education, and combating crime.

“If you are alone, then you are defeated,” Baraka said. “It is important that we build alliances, not isolate ourselves and destroy ourselves.”

“It’s impossible for five days to fix hundreds of years of oppression,” Baraka told TAPinto Newark. “The narrative of 1967 diminishes what we’ve gone through. This is a protracted, generational struggle that takes us to where we are today.”

Back on South Jacob Street, two blocks from the same Springfield Avenue that was shattered 50 a half-century ago, Levon Putney stopped tending to his garden for a minute. He looked down the block at his neighbor’s home on the corner of Gold Street. He was jealous, yet determined.

“That guy is going crazy on his plot. He’s straight up harvesting veggies and melons,” Putney said. “Used to be there was no way in hell I was coming to Newark. Now look. There are roses growing up from the concrete.”

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Guest Column.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Morristown

Baby Crossing Summer Sale going on now!

July 12, 2018

Our SUMMER SALE is going on now! Get 40% percent off select summer apparel. 

PLUS check out the amazing deals in our $5 and $10 bins. We're open ALL week!

980 Mt Kemble Avenue, Morristown NJ 07928

Monday - Saturday 9:30am - 5pm

Sunday 12pm - 5pm

4th of July Sale Going on now at The Depot Gift Shop

4th of July sale going on now at the Depot Gift Shop.

The Depot Gift Shop is located at 980 Mt Kemble Avenue in Morristown

My Training Gym offers a 21-Day Summer Jump Start

Jump start your summer with My Training Gym!

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 18

On this week’s AtlantiCast, you’ll find out how accessing care at Atlantic Health System is now easier, more affordable and closer to home than ever, learn which item from the produce aisle could be the newest weapon against cancer, see what Atlantic Health System, the New York Times and Instagram all have in common and much more.

 

 

Big Changes in Store for New Jersey’s Employers and Employees

Big changes are in store for New Jersey’s workplaces, with dramatic legislation aimed at improving conditions for New Jersey’s workers. These changes include the enactment of New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act, a new law to help the unemployed, and passage of New Jersey’s Paid Sick Leave Act. Most likely one or all these laws will impact you or someone in your family.

New ...

Have Lunch with the Librarian at Macculloch Hall Wednesdays in July

July 11, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Grab a blanket and your lunch and enjoy a wonderful afternoon with "Lunch with the Librarian" at Macculloch Hall Gardens. 

Today and every Wednesday in July and August, the librarian from the Morristown Library will read stories to pre-school children and their parents or caregivers under Macculloch Hall's magnificent beech tree.

The event ...

Free Movie Fridays and Mondays at the Morris County Library

MORRISTOWN, NJ -  Looking to start your weekend with a movie? The Morris County Library is offering free movies on Fridays and Mondays to all Morris County residents.

On Fridays, the library will show Black Panther, Murder on the orient Express, Hostiles and Star wars VIII The Last Jedi.  All movies begin at 2pm. On Mondays the library will host family movies with ...

Tri Harder Triathlon Comes to Ginty Pool Saturday July 14

MORRISTOWN, NJ - The Tri-Harder Kid's Triathlon Series is once again coming to Ginty Pool on Saturday July 14 at 8:30am. 

The event, for children ages 4 - 14, focuses on participation and the importance of physical activity rather than places and scores. The event provides participants with general times and ribbons are given to all registrants. 

Participants ...

Game Day! FC Motown will Host FC Baltimore at Drew

July 18, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Grab the family and friends and head over to Drew University tonight to cheer on FC Motown as they face FC Baltimore. Tonight, both teams will square off in the NPSL Northeast Region Semifinals.  Game time is 8pm.

To read more about the team, click HERE 

 

Nature Walks in Morristown's Foote's Pond Wood; Tonight July 12

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Join Bill Munther, Ecologist and Friend of Foote’s Pond Wood, for a Nature Walk at Foote's Pond tonight, Thursday July 12 at 6:30pm.

Munther will lead attendees on a walk around Foote’s Pond Wood Park to view and identify its flora and fauna and describe its ecosystems and habitats. A great opportunity and introduction. Can't make it tonight, don't ...

Don't Miss The Kids Program - Dig it! Plant it! Eat it! at Morristown's Macculloch Hall

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Macculloch Hall is hosting a youth summer garden program on Saturday July 7, 14, 21 and August 4, 11, and 18. The hands on program is for families from 10am - 11:30am. Come to the garden and learn how to make refrigerator pickles, help tend the vegetables, create nature-inspired art, and learn about helpful insects and pollinators through games and garden scavenger ...

MTG Youth Training Camp in Full Swing

July 14, 2018

My Training Gym's Youth Athletics Program is a group training designed to:

Reduce body mass - Increase muscular strength - Improve motor skills - Encourage plant based nutrition - Enhance concentration - Build self-confidence - Prevent sports injuries. 

Stop by the gym and check out a session, Mon-Thurs. 3-4pm.  Your child(ren) will thank you!

Bring the Kids! Touch a Truck Day at Ginty Field

MORRISTOWN, NJ -  Fire trucks, garbage trucks, police cars and many more vehciles will be part of Touch a Truck Day on Friday July 13. Children of all ages are invited down to Ginty Field to explore, touch and see these vehicles.

The Touch a Truck Day will take place from 9:30am - 11:30am at Ginty Field in Morris Township.

Sign up to get all the news as it happens ...

1st Annual Diversity Day to Be Held on the Morristown Green; Sat. July 8

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Celebrate your neighbors during the first annual Diversity Day in Morristown. 

The event will take place on the Morristown Green on Saturday July 8. The event will kick off with an interfaith service at 11am which everyone is invited to. Following the service there will be music, entertainment and food from 12noon - 4pm.

Working together to present the event is ...

Cadet CMSgt Craig Petrin of Morristown, receives Award

July 17, 2018

Cadet CMSgt Craig Petrin, of the Lone Eagle Composite Squadron, Morristown, NJ, was presented with the Honor Cadet Award recently at the one week NJ Wing Civil Air Patrol Basic Encampment held at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

The Honor Cadet Award is presented to those who show outstanding leadership, character, and attention to detail.  Also during encampment, Craig performed the ...

Free Slurpee Day today at Morristown's 7-Eleven

MORRISTOWN, NJ -  Today is Wednesday July 11 or better known as Free Slurpee Day at local 7-Eleven stores. On 7/11, the retailer is offering customers a free small slurpee from 11am - 7pm or while supplies last.

So stop in to your local store for a cool treat to beat the heat.

The Morristown location is located at 50 Morris Street. Another close location is the store located in Cedar ...

Roxbury Helpers Sought for Upcoming Fistball World Championships

ROXBURY, NJ – The organizers of the upcoming U18 Fistball World Championships, an international even taking place in Succasunna, are seeking volunteers to work with visitors from across the globe.

Werner Adam, the northeast regional director for the United States Fistball Association (USFA), said planning for the big event is going well. However, one hurdle that remains is ...

Car Stolen from Pomeroy Avenue Overnight; Auto Theft Ring Suspected

July 19, 2018

MADISON, NJ - On the evening of July 18 between the hours of 6:30p.m. and 7:00a.m. a 2011 black Range Rover was stolen out of a driveway on Pomeroy Ave in the borough.

According to Lt John Miscia of the Madison police department the vehicle was left unlocked.

"We believe a high end car theft ring is responsible," said Miscia. "We however can’t confirm ...

US Junior Amateur: Top Nine Seeds Advance, Led by Top-seed Kelly Chinn, to Round of 32

July 19, 2018

Wednesday’s playoff, round of 64 Scores

Thursday’s round of 32 matchups
(Round of 32 winners advance to the round of 16, starting at 1:15 p.m. EDT)

SPRINGFIELD, NJ - After an early morning eight-player playoff to decide the final three spots of match play later in the afternoon, top-seed Kelly Chinn of Great Falls, Va., led the way for the top nine seeds to advance after the ...

'Diggin' It' at Belmar's Annual Sandcastle Contest

July 19, 2018

BELMAR, NJ — Belmar’s 18th Avenue beach turned into a giant sandbox for the hundreds of participants in Wednesday's 32nd Annual Sandcastle Contest.

As thousands of spectators crowded around to watch the building process unfold on July 18, sand sculptors of all ages took their pails, shovels, spray bottles and other tools — and tricks —  of the trade to ...

Belmar Parasail: Soar Into Summer with a High-Flying Adventure Along the Beachfront

BELMAR, NJ — As Belmar finally basks in picture-perfect weather, it may be time to check off a summer activity on your bucket list. And for many, parasailing is one of those “must-do” experiences.

At Belmar Parasail, the season is in full swing, offering boat trips from the Belmar Manutti Marina to the beachfront where passengers are lifted 500 feet above the Atlantic Ocean ...

Monmouth County: Haskell Invitations Out, Triple Crown Champion, Justify Is Not On The List

OCEANPORT, N.J. — Forty-four 3-year-olds were extended invitations to the $1 million betfair.com Haskell Invitational on Sunday, July 29, at Monmouth Park. Triple Crown winner, Justify is not on the list.

On July 10, Justify’s connections announced that the colt’s training was put on hold with Trainer Bob Baffert saying there was intermittent swelling in one ...

People I've Known and Been: Little by Little by Rich Little

People I've Known and Been: Little by Little by Rich Little (Dog Ear Publishing, 2015)

 

Rich Little is a national treasure; a living encyclopedia of movie stars, comedians, and former presidents all wrapped into one dynamic package. Recently, my husband and I had the good fortune to see Little perform at the Tropicana in Las Vegas, where he has been doing his uncanny ...

'Servant of Two Masters' exudes foolish fun

‘Servant of Two Masters’ makes for foolish, frivolous fun

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ –Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters,” in a rousing translation and adaptation by Bonnie J. Monte, has the outdoor audience at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey laughing and clapping all the way through.

The yearly production, held at the amphitheatre on the ...

TapInto Welcomes Letters to the Editor, Guidelines for Submission Listed

July 18, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Letters to the Editor are a time-honored tradition in the newspaper industry and now that so much of news has moved online, the letters explaining a personal point of view have moved with it.

While many of our letters come during election time, TapInto invites letters year round. The main rules are to include a full name, phone number, email and snail mail address. TapInto ...

5 Simple Ways to Save Water this Summer

July 16, 2018

According to the L.A. Times, the average American uses an estimated 98 gallons of water EACH day.  

Here are five simple ways you can save water, to help you conserve water this summer and take some pressure off of your drains.

1. Unless you are using it, turn the faucet off. How many of us still leave the water running while we shave or brush our teeth?According to ...

Upcoming Events

Fri, July 20

Madison

Kids' Critter Camp

Education

Fri, July 20, 9:00 AM

The Wayrick Gallery, Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: NJ Audubon Photography Instructors’ ...

Arts & Entertainment Green

Fri, July 20, 9:00 AM

The Center for Contemporary Art, Bedminster,

2018 Members’ Non-Juried Exhibition & Sale

Arts & Entertainment

Warrants, Theft and Narcotic Possession Top This Week's Police Blotter

July 17, 2018

7/5: ARREST FOR D.W.I./THEFT/WARRANT: Officers executed a motor-vehicle stop for a moving violation in Jefferson Township. An investigation led to Gina L. Falcon, age 24, of Paterson, to be charged with Driving While Intoxicated and Receiving Stolen Property; and Destiny Martinez, age 24, of Passaic, to be charged with Receiving Stolen Property. Ms. Martinez was also found to have a warrant for ...

Whole Foods Market Community Giving Day to benefit Interfaith Food Pantry, July 26

July 19, 2018

Morris Plains, NJ -  The Interfaith Food Pantry announced that it will receive five percent of net sales from the Whole Foods Market locations in the Morristown and Madison areas on Thursday, July 26 as part of the company’s quarterly Community Giving Day.

“We’re so grateful to Whole Foods for their partnership in addressing the problem of local hunger and food ...

Obituaries

 It is with great sadness that The Hampshire Companies announces that Todd Anderson, ...
Read more
- Mar 13, 2017
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Paulus J. Tuyp, passed away at his residence with his loving and ...
Read more
- Mar 12, 2017
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Edward K. Larsen, 94, passed away on Sunday, March 12, 2017 at JFK ...
Read more