Newark NJ – August 25, 2007. The People’s March For Peace, Equality, Jobs & Justice was held Saturday, August 25, 2007 in Newark. Various organizations began setting up their tables around 12:00 noon in downtown Newark’s Lincoln Park. A large number of diverse groups turned out for the event which was organized by The Peace & Justice Coalition. A rally featuring keynote speaker Congressman John Conyers, (D) from Detroit’s 14th CD and poet/playwright/activist Amiri Baraka preceded a spirited march. Around 1:30 pm, a long column streamed out of the park and marched north on Broad Street. The procession paused briefly at Military Park before returning to Lincoln Park where additional speakers took the podium.
The march was held on August 25th to coincide with the 44th anniversary of the 1963 March On Washington For Jobs & Freedom, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, and the second anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. It was also timed to coincide with the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Newark Rebellion.
Speakers at the rally included James Kelley, whose son Clarence Lavon Floyd was killed in Iraq; Reverend William Howard, Pastor, Bethany Baptist Church; James Harris, New Jersey State President, NAACP; Ray Stever, President, New Jersey Industrial Union Council; Madelyn Hoffman, Executive Director, New Jersey Peace Action; Jerome Harris, President, New Jersey Black Issues Convention; poet/playwright Amiri Baraka; Lawrence Hamm, Chairman, People’s Organization For Progress, and: Hurricane Katrina survivor and New Orleans resident Alice Craft-Kerney.
John Conyers, Jr., Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, discussed his national health insurance bill (H.R. 676) at the rally and was received warmly although some present wanted him to answer questions about his position on the impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney. Conyers declined to comment, saying: “You’re talking about impeachment, let me handle my part of the program for right now…I love you my brother…I’ll see you afterwards”. Conyers was cheered later as he joined the march – making his way up Broad Street in the searing August heat.
Lawrence Hamm said that the event was “part of an ongoing organizing effort to increase African American and Latino participation in the peace movement and to link the struggle to end the war to the struggle for racial, social, and economic justice here at home.” An impressive turnout – and a very diverse crowd – would indicate the organizers have achieved a measure of success.