I also remember the Newark Riots

by Florence Colandro


I also remember the infamous Newark Riots. Up to this point I never felt unsafe or in any way threatened when I traveled through any part of Newark. At the time of the riots I lived on North Seventh Street across from Anthony Imperials Little City Hall. What a joke that was! A bunch of fools gathering together under the premise of keeping Newark safe. They just made matters worse than they were.

One night as we were going to sleep in our safe beds in our apartment there was an explosion outside the Little City Hall. My windows blew out of my apartment. I was pregnant at the time with two small sons. I ran in the front bedroom to grab my older son out of his once safe bed to get him away from falling glass. A little later I miscarried. We found out a little later that some one (I wonder who?) had put a stick of dynamite in the sewer pipe in the road.

During this riot a lot of innocent black people were hurt (white also) and I think thirty something people lost their lives. Newark was & never will be the same again. No amount of rebuilding can ever bring back the Newark I loved and felt safe in. I came from Madison Avenue in Newark originally. There was never any fear even though it was a racially mixed neighborhood. These times of innocent are gone forever.

My husbands family lived across from the armory on Sussex Avenue. Soldiers all around. Gunshots all around. What happened? Newark Renaissance? I think not. Newark is a lost city with areas rebuilt and areas of squalor. Some things can never be fixed with a band aid. What happened to downtown Newark? All the great movie theaters we had?

A very vivid memory I have is coming home from a visit to my grandmothers in Pennsylvania on the Martz or Greyhound bus into Penn Station near midnight with my mother & father & waiting on Broad Street for a bus home to Madison Avenue. We never felt fearful. Now I have not been to the downtown area in so many years. A little due to apprehension and a little due to the selection of stores that are now there. On the day of the riots I was downtown with my youngest son who was 2 years old at the time and we were in Woolworth's (remember) and looking back after the riots began it had been very quiet that day as though everyone knew something was going to happen.

I cannot believe 38 years has passed. It seems like it happened only a couple of years ago! There are lessons to be learned here but does anyone ever learn these lessons. God help us all!


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