The First Hip-Hop Mayor

On Friday, September 27, 2002, Hip Hop artist

and one time school teacher Ras Baraka was sworn in as one of four Deputy Mayors

for the city of Newark, New Jersey. Baraka is the son of poet Amiri Baraka,

and will head up Youth and Social Service Programs in Newark. Baraka will continue

his position as Assistant Principal at Weequahic High School.

Baraka, a native of his municipality explains

that his focus will be on “redistributing resources to the hands of the

people, especially in the areas of education, employment, and recreation.”

He believes this is essential to maintaining Newark’s resurgence.

In 1994, Baraka ran for Mayor coming in third

place against a formidable incumbent and in 1998, he ran for councilman-at-large

and won the general election, but lost in the runoff by a very small margin.

Over the years, Ras has received the political endorsements of a broad range

of people including Maya Angelou, Russell Simmons, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and

many others.