Save The Children!
Amiri Baraka and Arthur Henson
Contributing editor and Regional correspondent
NEWARK — UNITY demands that Daniel Gibson be removed from the Newark Board of Education because of his involvement in the conflict of interest business deals with former Executive Superintendent of Schools Columbus Salley.
These two, along with a third partner, obtained a $600,000 bank loan for a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise from the same bank in which Salley had deposited huge sums of board funds.
(UNITY editor Amiri Baraka said to the board,“When in the last trillion years do you suppose that th§ bank lent $600,000 to any Black people?”) This transaction was the basis for one of the charges the board used to terminate Salley. It is further a conflict of interest in that Gibson, as a member of the board, was supposed to exercise supervision over Salley.
Gibson’s real conflict of interest, however, falls with the people of Newark. He did all he could to maintain the power of his boss, Newark’s Mayor Kenneth Gibson, against the will and the right of the community for democracy. In 1983 he entered into an underhanded scheme in collusion with the then-board attorney, Louis Rosen, who has since been rightfully fired, to strip the board of its power to choose its own president. Gibson failed due to intense community opposition and subsequently brought suit in another vain attempt to hamstring the board. He sought to turn all power over agendas, hiring and procedures to Salley. Last April, he was part of the attempt to deny seating to anti-city hall election victors Edgar Brown and Reverend Oliver Brown. Only the fact that he has been in the board minority has kept him out of mischief for the past eleven months, though he has continuously disrupted board meetings and obstructed the real work of developing the children’s education.
The real reason why Daniel Gibson has to go, then, is that Kenneth Gibson has to go. Kenneth Gibson is up for re-election next year, and the systematic reduction of his influence on the board by popular forces foreshadows his defeat next year.
UNITY supports the appointment of Tina Johnson (Takalifu) to the board in place of Gibson. Currently the board suffers from the serious problem that no Black woman sits on it. This is bizarre in a city with a Black majority Board of Education. Ms. Johnson is a qualified and progressive person for the seat. She is also a candidate for election to the board on April 2. She clearly speaks to the needs of the community for democracy, change and transformation of the school system. Her appointment would put a progressive Black woman on the board and help bring a more progressive direction to the Board of Education.
In last year’s election UNITY forces along with a popular majority helped oust three of Mayor Gibson’s lackeys. This was done as part of a united front that included several trade union bureaucrats as spokespersons for unions involved with the Newark school system, petty-bourgeois politicians, Black nationalist organizations and some people calling themselves Marxists.
The difficulty of such a “front” is that in reality it was, and remains, a coalition of the school coalition! “United front from above,” as it is sometimes called. With the various forces then influencing their constituencies to support the ticket.
But this year, this coalition has grown more difficult to function in because these bureaucrats and petty-bourgeois politicians have tasted power so now they have made a series of deals aiming to consolidate and stake their power on the Board of Education objectively seeking to set up a dictatorship over the board and the educational system and totalitarian, anti-democratic and self-serving as any Mayor Gibson ever set up.
The LRS (League of Revolutionary Struggle M-L) made repeated attempts inside PUBS (People United for Better Schools) to make candidate selection and nominations for PUBS candidates for the school board more open and democratically elected, rather than “back room selected.”
But the bureaucrats, local Democratic Party politicians and their left/nationalist tail opposed any moves to transform the PUBS coalition into a mass organization. CWP (Communist Workers Party) forces are included in this Democratic politician TUB (trade union bureaucrat) tail. And they also prefer the “united front from above” to the mobilization of the masses. CWP’s record in Newark of tailing, first Gibson and now the TUBS, is shameful.
A true people’s candidate, Tina Johnson, was blocked from running on the coalition’s ticket because of back room deals between the TUBS and the politicians. The nationalists and fake Marxists trot comfortably up under the TUBS/ pols behinds, their “militance” now turned into advertising skills!
These reactionaries even named a corrections officer as one of the coalition’s candidates. Since she is a Black woman, they hope to cover the fact that one of her first platform demands is for regular police in the public schools!
The other two candidates from the coalition are education activists who can be expected to vote as the union bureaucrats and petty-bourgeois politicians bid them to.
The UNITY forces have taken the tack of demanding that the corrupt reactionary “Chicken Dan” Gibson be removed from the Board of Education and the widely popular community activist, Tina Johnson, be seated in his place. The board majority has agreed to do this in theory. But they have asked Tina Johnson to withdraw from the April 2nd race. But the swelling mass following in support of Ms. Johnson’s candidacy urges her to stay in the race until the seat is hers; one way or another.
The poignant phrase, “Save the Children,” taken from Marvin Gaye’s 1970 masterpiece, What’s Goin On? provides the slogan for this people’s campaign.
The theme of the campaign (see Platform) is Fight For People’s Democracy! Meaning U.S. bourgeois democracy has never reached the oppressed nationality masses in this society or even great sectors of the white working class. The substandard, racist, class-biased, U.S. educational system has never served the multinational oppressed nationality masses nor a large sector of the white working class. Certainly the absence and censorship of Black history from standard curricula was one of the rallying cries of the 1960’s successful drive to bring Black, Latino and ethnic and women’s studies programs onto the campuses.
The educational system must begin to serve the people. What passes for democracy in the U.S. is corporate domination often through public institutions and through private enterprise and private fortunes, and white supremacy. Nor can we allow the local educational system to be subjected to a dictatorship of TUBS and petty-bourgeois politicians. These agents of bourgeois ideology are little dogs fetching for the big dogs. While we must work with them to the extent that it is possible, in certain united fronts, we must never witlessly tail them, as the lap dogs of the fake Marxists and nationalist organizations are doing shamelessly. The “Save the Children” campaign not only promises success, but means that most progressive forces in this city are now openly mobilizing for the 1986 mayoral campaign, at which time, as a leading element among the whole masses, we can help lead the people to total victory over Ken Gibson, retiring him to the Dumb Farm where he belongs.
Vounteers for Save the Children Campaign call (201) 923-5008 or (201) 824-6006