On October 17, more than 50 residents, teachers, policy makers and other city officials took part in the Newark Trust’s citywide historical bus tour. The fourth-annual excursion, led by Dr. Clement Price, director of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience at Rutgers-Newark, has become a tradition to individuals new to the city, as well as to life-long residents.
The purpose is rooted in civics, said Dr. Price: “This is a tour of our city’s past, present, and future—anyone living, working, or making decisions about the future of Newark needs to understand our city’s long, complicated history.”
Each year, Dr. Price, who also serves as the Newark Trust’s board chair emeritus recounts Newark history on a citywide tour for new teachers entering the district. The tour emphasizes the social battles fought 40 years ago that, in many ways, continue today.
“Teachers entering the district must understand the pressures outside of the classroom,” Dr. Price said.
Some of the many highlights on the tour included a discussion on the importance of public art and appreciating the city's architecture, and the fact that some of the finest literary thinkers are from Brick City.
"There aren't that many cities that can produce, in one generation, the likes of Amiri Baraka and Philip Roth," Price said.
It's this understanding of the city's profound importance that is essential to Newark's revival. "Newark stopped teaching civics at a time when whites were leaving, but we need to restore civics and teach local history," Price said.
"By policy, we made ourselves a suburban white state before we knew the cost it would have on our cities, on public education, and on the public sector," he added.
"But there is so much going on here now. Not to mention that this is a community that is keenly tuned in to local events and goings-on, there are people moving here and businesses moving in. It's a college town, too, with more students living here than in Princeton or New Brunswick.
"Building on our knowledge of the past forges the path for generations to come," Price said.