NEWARK – Standing before a crowd of 1,000 revelers at the Robert Treat Hotel at his inaugural ball, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka told his frenzied supporters to keep on partying down, but also to be prepared for the hard road ahead.
“I just want to thank everyone for coming out here this evening and celebrating the new transition of our city and being part of what I think is a historic moment in the city of Newark,” said Baraka, minutes after appearances from famed artists Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans and Rah Digga on stage. “We’re going to make some incredible changes here in Newark. If you’re not from Newark, you wish you were today, I bet you. And if you moved out, we might let you come back.”
Baraka continued his riff on the hoped-for return of those who left the city, many in the wake of the 1967 riots.
“Newark is moving forward, and we need you to come back and buy a home here, open up a business here, do some commerce here with us, help us build our schools, our roads. Help us do what we need to do with our city,” Baraka said to the cheering crowd. “Newark is truly getting ready to experience a renaissance, a renaissance that many of us have been waiting for for a very, very, very long time.
“God is going to make the world look at Newark. God is going to make the world watch Newark. And what we’re going to do in Newark is going to be duplicated around the country. And in the words of [former Newark Mayor] Ken Gibson, wherever the world is going, Newark is going to get there first. I believe in Newark, and I know you believe in Newark, too. Enjoy yourself. Have a great time, party all night, because tomorrow, we begin work. We’re going to show the rest of the state of New Jersey that here in Newark, we mean business.”