Bill Duhart, NJ.com, July 6, 2023
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka had a simple answer for why he narrated a new video explaining the need for reparations for African Americans.
“They asked me to,” Baraka told NJ Advance Media. “I think it’s important. I wanted to be a part of it in any way.”
The video was produced by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “Say The Word: Reparations in New Jersey” is a three-minute, animated video packed with 400 years of history explaining why a discussion about compensation should be taken seriously. It is currently featured on the institute’s YouTube channel.
“This is a historical stain on America’s legacy for a long period of time,” said Baraka, whose father, Amari Baraka, also known as LeRoi Jones, was a prominent poet and leader of social justice campaigns starting in the late 1950s until his death in 2014. “Some of the issues that have been long standing in New Jersey. Some of this stuff can be remedied by just having a discussion about policies to address some of the things that have happened.”
Baraka and officials in 17 other municipalities in the state have led efforts to pass resolutions supporting an effort in the state Legislature to establish a task force to explore what reparations in New Jersey may look like. It was an effort to back a bill that has languished in the state Legislature since 2020 without ever getting a hearing.
With the legislation languishing in the Legislature, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice has established its own commission of experts to discuss what reparations in New Jersey and America may look like. It may include funding reparative policies and direct payments.