BY WALTER OPINDE
On this day, 16th June, 1970, Kenneth Allen Gibson was elected the first African-American mayor of Newark, New Jersey, a major eastern city in the United States.
Gibson is an American Democratic Party politician, who was elected as the 34th Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, the largest city in the state. He was the first African American elected mayor of any major Northeastern United States city. He served from 1970 to 1986.
Born on 15th May. 1932, in Enterprise town, Alabama, Allen attended his education and graduated, in 1950, from high school in Enterprise. He later joined the United States Army as a civil engineer, thereby remaining in the Army until 1958. Upon his discharge, Kenneth Allen got a job as a Highway Patrol trooper in the New Jersey State. While serving as a patrol trooper, he simultaneously attended the Newark College where he graduated in 1963 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering.
Upon the completion of his college studies, Gibson took an engineering position with the Newark Housing Authority, where he oversaw urban renewal projects between 1960 and 1966. By 1967, he had become the Newark’s chief structural engineer, besides heading Newark’s Business and Industry Coordinating Council. He also served as the vice president of the United Community Corporation, which fought poverty in Newark during the period.
In 1970, Kenneth Gibson ran for the position of Mayor of Newark, New Jersey; successfully defeating the incumbent Mayor, Hugh J. Addonizio, who was later convicted of conspiracy and extortion charges. Mr. Allen took over the predominantly African-American city that was still recovering from the racial riots of 1967, which left more than 23 people dead.
Mayor Gibson was attributed for economic revival that resuscitated the city’s economy. For instance, when he first came into office, the city was in the middle of a population loss from 400,000 to 300,000. However, by the end of his first term, the numbers gradually grown Gibson encouraged the return of middle-class citizens, who fled the city, through urban housing developments, such as Society Hill. His administration was also initially identified with Black Nationalist poet and playwright, Baraka Amiri, who was credited for Gibson Allen’s first election to the mayor’s post.
Kenneth Allen Gibson served for four consecutive terms in office until 1986, when he was defeated by Sharpe James following a scandal that resulted in his indictment on conspiracy and misconduct. Gibson was acquitted in his subsequent trial, which took place after he left office. Gibson was actively involved in several civil rights organizational activities, such as the National Urban League, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1976 Gibson also became the first black person to serve as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Read more of the story via: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/30/nyregion/fourterm-newark-leader-wont-secondguess-mayor.html