“No Med School!” Black Resistance to The New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry (NJCMD) Urban Renewal Proposal, Between 1960 and 1970

Edad Mercier


This article is a historiographical study of urban renewal in Newark, New Jersey. The paper offers a cross-sectional view of policymaking and appropriation at the federal and local levels, which is critical when analyzing the delimitations of ethnic coalition building. The article centers on a typological study of Black resistance to the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry (NJCMD) construction project that was slated to commence around 1965-1966. NJCMD, renamed the University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey (UMDNJ) in 1981, was initially proposed as a revitalization project that would stymie urban decay in Newark. However, the project proposal would also displace close to 22,000 people in the Central Ward—a predominately poor, majority Black section of Newark. Using social movement scholarship, specifically the literature on resource mobilization during the mid-twentieth century Civil Rights Movement, this article examines the distinct ways that Black residents of Newark responded to the NJCMD project. The response involved community board meetings, rallies, and surveys that ultimately led to significant overhauls of NJCMD’s initial design. Black resistance to NJCMD also culminated in the 1970 election of Kenneth Gibson, Newark’s first Black mayor. Key concepts such as “collective action framing” and “frame diffusion” inform this study of grassroots mobilization and community resistance. Also included in this work is an exploration of Black Power politics, its key figures in Newark, and the impact that such solidarity movements had on municipal politics. A thorough analysis of “pressure politics” and “protest politics” in the public sphere will also shed light on how racial exclusion frames elections and electorates.


grassroots protest, marginalization, Black, urban renewal, Newark.

Full Text:



Abernathy, R. (1989). And the walls came tumbling down: An autobiography. Harper & Row.

Addonizio, H. (1967). Model Cities Report. Rep. City Hall. Newark, NJ.

Ahmad, I. (2016). The Early Years of American Political Science: Traditionalist Paradigm and its Critics. Research in Social Sciences and Technology, 1(2).


Arsenault, R. (2005). Freedom Riders 1961 and the struggle for racial justice. Oxford University Press.

Benford, R. D., & Snow, D. A. (2000). Framing processes and social movements: An overview and assessment. Annual Review of Sociology, 26(1), 611-639.


Brazil, N. (2016). Large-scale urban riots and residential segregation: A case study of the 1960s U.S. Riots. Demography, 53(2), 567-595. doi:10.1007/s13524-016-0459-9

Bullock, J. (2020). Education and attitudes toward redistribution in the United States. British

Journal of Political Science, 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007123419000504

Carmichael, S., &. Hamilton, C. V. (1967). Black power: The politics of liberation in America. Random House.

Casciano, R. (2009). ‘By any means necessary’: The American welfare state and machine politics in Newark’s north ward. [Doctoral dissertation, Princeton University].

Casey, M., & Hardy, B. (2018). The evolution of Black neighborhoods since Kerner. RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, 4(6), 185-205.


Castells, M. (1983). The city and the grassroots: A cross-cultural theory of urban social movements. University of California Press.

Chetty, R., Hendren, N., Jones, M., & Porter, S. (2020). Race and economic opportunity in the United States: An intergenerational perspective. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 135(2), 711-783. https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjz042

Clark, K. B. (1965). Dark ghetto: Dilemmas of social power (1st ed.). Harper & Row.

Congressional Declaration of National Housing Policy, 42 U.S. Code § 1441 (1949).


Cruden, J. (2016). Cooperative federalism in action: ENRD and states. US DOJ Archives: Environment and Natural Resources Division. https://www.justice.gov/archives/opa/blog/cooperative-federalism-action-enrd-and-states

Cunningham, J. T., & Hill, H. (1988). Newark. New Jersey Historical Society.

DeCaro, D. A., Chaffin, B. C., Schlager, E., Garmestani, A. S., & Ruhl, J. B. (2017). Legal and institutional foundations of adaptive environmental governance. Ecology and Society,

(1). https://doi.org/10.5751/es-09036-220132

Dolan, T. (n.d.). Newark and its gateway complex. https://web.archive.org/web/20150909230145/http://www.newarkmetro.rutgers.edu/reports/display.php?id=17&pa


Esterling, K. M., Fung, A., & Lee, T. (2019). When deliberation produces persuasion rather than polarization: Measuring and modeling small group dynamics in a field experiment. British Journal of Political Science, 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0007123419000243

Farley, R. (2018). Detroit fifty years after the Kerner report: What has changed, what has not, and why? RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, 4(6), 206. https://doi.org/10.7758/rsf.2018.4.6.10

Gates, Jr., H. (2019). Stony the road: Reconstruction, White supremacy, and the rise of Jim Crow. Penguin Press.

Gelb, J. (1974). Black power in electoral politics: A case study & comparative analysis. Polity, 6(4), 500-527. https://doi.org/10.2307/3234030

Gibson Civic Association. (1970, June 16). Newark has another chance June 16th don’t waste it vote Ken Gibson [Poster Advertisement].

Gibson, K. A. (1978). A case for equity in federal-local relations in urban policy development. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 439(1), 135-146. https://doi.org/10.1177/000271627843900110

Gooden, S., & Myers, S. (2018). The Kerner commission report fifty years later: Revisiting the American dream. RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences,4(6), 1-17. https://doi.org/10.7758/rsf.2018.4.6.01

Greve, M. (2020). Why we need federal administrative courts. SSRN Electronic Journal. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3561135

Haas, J. (2019). The assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago police murdered a Black Panther. Lawrence Hill Books.

Halbfinger, D. M. (1999, December 28). Anthony Imperiale, 68, Dies - Polarizing force in Newark. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/1999/12/28/nyregion/anthony-


Hayden, T. (1967). Rebellion in Newark: Official violence and ghetto response. Random House.

Hofferth, S. L., & Goldscheider, F. (2010). Family structure and the transition to early parenthood. Demography, 47(2), 415–437. https://doi.org/10.1353/dem.0.0102

Honig, M. (1963, July 3). Racial Job Clash Erupts in Jersey. New York Times.


Iceland, J., & Hernandez, E. (2017). Understanding trends in concentrated poverty: 1980–2014. Social Science Research, 62, 75–95. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2016.09.001

Ingham, S., & Levin, I. (2018). Can deliberative minipublics influence public opinion? Theory and experimental evidence. Political Research Quarterly, 71(3), 654-667.


Jack, A. A. (2019). The privileged poor: How elite colleges are failing disadvantaged students. Harvard University Press.

Jackson, T. (2007). From civil rights to human rights: Martin Luther King and the struggle for economic justice. University of Pennsylvania Press.

Ken Gibson with Supporters. (1970). Newark Public Library.

Lituchy, S. (Director). (2007b, July 14). Interview of Junius Williams on the UMDNJ Fight [VIDEO]. Newark Star-Ledger. https://www.nj.com/ledgernewark/2007/07/junius_williams_the_umdnj_figh.html

Malcolm X: From Nation of Islam to Black Power Movement. (2018, February 21). Al Jazeera

News. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/02/malcolm-nation-islam-black-power-movement-180221085553908.html

Massey, D. S., & Denton, N. A. (1993). American apartheid: Segregation and the making of the underclass. Harvard University Press.

Meier, A. (1973). Black experience: The transformation of activism. Transaction Books.

Mikell, G. (1987). Class and ethnic political relations in Newark. In L. Mullings (Ed.), Cities of the United States: Studies in urban anthropology (pp. 71-98). Columbia University Press.

Mumford, K. (2007). Newark: A history of race, rights, and riots in America. New York University Press.

Newark Agreements. (1968). Rep. Newark, NJ.

NPR: National Public Radio. (2006, January 12). Get on the bus: The Freedom Riders of 1961.


Poverty: Balance on Resurrection City. (1968, July 5). TIME.


Putnam, R. (2001). Making democracy work: Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton University Press.

Rabig, J. (2007). Broken deal: Devolution, development, and civil society in Newark, New Jersey, 1960–1990 [Doctoral dissertation, The University of Pennsylvania].

Schlichting, K., Tuckel, P., & Maisel, R. (2015). Great migration of African Americans to Hartford, Connecticut, 1910–1930: A GIS analysis at the neighborhood and street level. Social Science History, 39(2), 287-310. https://doi.org/10.1017/ssh.2015.54

Strickler, R. (2017). Deliberate with the enemy? Polarization, social identity, and attitudes

toward disagreement. Political Research Quarterly, 71(1), 3–18. https://doi.org/10.1177/1065912917721371

Sullivan, J. (1972, December 5). Kawaida Towers’ confrontation in the North Ward of Newark.

New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/1972/12/05/archives/kawaida-towers-


Sullivan, J. (1976, July 16). Kawaida Towers given a quiet burial. New York Times.



Teaford, J. C. (1986). The twentieth-century American city: Problem, promise, and reality. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Temple of Kawaida-Chronology of Kawaida Towers. (1973). The Black Power Movement, pt. 1 (microform). Newark Public Library.

Thompson, J. P. (2006). Double trouble: Black mayors, Black communities, and the call for a deep democracy. Oxford University Press.

Tibaldo-Bongiorno, M. (Director, Producer). (2007). Revolution '67. [FILM]. IVTS and POV.

Trotter, Jr., J. (2002). The great migration. OAH Magazine of History, 17(1), 31-33.


Truman, H. S. (1949, January 5). Annual message to the congress on the state of the union. Harry S. Truman Library Museum. https://www.trumanlibrary.gov/library/public-


Tuttle, B. R. (2009). How Newark became Newark: The rise, fall, and rebirth of an American city. Rutgers University Press.

Watts, J. G. (2001). Amiri Baraka: The politics and art of a Black intellectual. New York University Press.

Williams, J. W. (1968). Advocacy in Newark: The medical school controversy [Law school

thesis, Yale Law School].

Williams, J. W. (2014). Unfinished Agenda: Urban politics in the era of Black Power. United

States: North Atlantic Books.

Wilson, W. J. (2012). The truly disadvantaged: The inner city, the underclass, and public policy(2nd ed.). University of Chicago Press.

Workers, Pickets Clash at Barringer Project. (1963). Newark Evening News (microform).

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.29333/ejecs/450


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies  E-ISSN: 2149-1291

Copyright © Center for Ethnic and Cultural Studies (CECS) Publishing Inc.

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the 'ejecs.org' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.

SCImago Journal & Country Rank  EBSCO HostCrossRef DOI – EScience Press

upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1d/Gal... News & Views: Analyzing the DOAJ - Delta ThinkICI Journals Master Listerihplus hashtag on TwitterProQuest (@ProQuest) | Twitter