Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, 45, son of poet and activist Amiri Baraka and his wife Amina, is the city’s 40th mayor.
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and in an effort to streamline operations, Baraka’s administration has announced plans to merge leadership of the city’s public safety and emergency agencies. The legislation would consolidate each department’s upper ranks, placing police, fire and emergency management operations under the oversight of a new public safety director. By establishing a new department, the legislation would also effectively eliminate the city’s police and fire director positions.
The Nation magazine named Baraka an MVP (“Most Valuable Progressive”) in 2015. He is listed among other politicians, humanitarians, musicians and activists. This honor is due to his being an advocate for workers, affordable housing, public services and public education. He backed a $15 per hour wage for Newark Liberty International Airport employees and other workers. He also fought to release control over Newark’s schools from the state after more than 20 years.