Newark Riots

by VonDell Adams Bankert


I grew up in Newark, N. J. I lived at 50 Lewis Street on the corner of 17th Ave., the year was 1947, I was seven years old. I lived with my mother, a single parent, my brother and Uncle, the area was preponderated by Afro American people.

There was the bakery on 17th Ave. Mr. Dempsey's store was a Jewish store, everyone had a line of credit there. I remember Cleveland Ave. High School, 18th Ave. middle school where Black parents were afraid to allow there children to attend, fear of being molested.

Most of all I can remember Newark City Hospital where Blacks were treated like dirt, and White People were treated like Gods at St. Barnabas Hospital. I remember well because I became an amputee in Newark City Hospital due to lack of medical care.

When the Projects were built on 17th Ave. everyone was forced to move, I know because we had to stay in one room on Blum Street until my mother could find affordable housing being a single parent. After a while we moved to 14 Second Street right at the end on New Street, a half a block away from Earnie's Print Shop, and Tony;s Bar.

I attended Sussex Ave. School, there were only five Black children in my eighth grade class, four females and one male, and no we did not get any recognition or special treatment which we all needed, I was fifteen and in the eight grade due to being hospitalize for so long, no one cared except the Glee Club teacher (Black) and she passed away.

I remember Ms. Innes, sixth grade teacher held me back in the sixth grade because I could not learn my six times table and she offered no help. Mr. Dean my seventh grade teacher tried to help although by that time it was a little late.

My point is racism did not start with the Newark Riots, it started long before that and it did not start with Black People. For sure after the riot, Newark was never the same, I left Newark in 1975, I have been back quite a few times to me nothing has changed, it is worst than ever.

Yes there are some new things in Newark, although it puts you in the mind of Germany, all of the houses grouped together looking the same, if you come home drunk you would not know which house to go into, as I said they all look alike, yes things have changed although to me they have not changed for the better.

By the way I attended Barringer High School for a half of a year, I was so afraid that I asked my mother to transfer me to Central High School, I went from one problem to another.

No I did not graduate because I had developed a learning disability which was never acknowledged until years later, as a matter of fact after becoming an adult with children of my own.

As for the Riot it was a bitter part of everyone's life regardless of your ethnicity. But as I said racism started years before the Riot, and trust me it is still very strong today and I live in California.

I had white friends, Diane, Donald Albaneise we went to Sussex Ave. School together.....(to be continued)


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