Name: Shakira McKnight

Age: 24

Hometown: Newark, NJ

Favorite Local Spot: Salaam Ice Cream Parlor in the South Ward

Life Goal: To eventually run a hospital in Newark and change several healthcare policies

In a conversation with Shakira McKnight you quickly realize that, despite her youth, she’s an actively involved citizen with a passion for Newark and an unerring optimism for its future. She recently sat down with Destination Newark and shared some of her thoughts about the future of Newark.

On Economic Development

“I like to go back to history all the time and I learned that Newark was an industrial city in the beginning. And, being that it was an industrial city, a lot of people talk about what Newark is not. But they’re not looking at how industry has started to come back into the city. 

Factories and different places like Mars, Inc. are coming back and, hopefully, Amazon, too. And we want to make sure that [Newarkers] get these jobs, because it will help the poverty. It will help those around us not want to commit crimes because they’ll have a job and won’t have to go out into the streets.”

On Safety

“I see a major change in the city’s safety. I see police officers walking the beat, which I haven’t seen in a long time. And my friends see it, too. I’m talking about people from the community, friends who I talk to about being engaged with and having conversations with people in the community. Through talking to them, I realize that I’m not the only one who sees the transformation.

There’s a commercial I hear on the radio all the time about how cops should be involved with and talking to the people in the community. All Stars has a program in Newark where cops talk to the young people so they can build a relationship with them and be more involved in the concerns of the citizens.

More cops have been hired since the mayor’s been in office. If you look up Clinton Avenue, you can see the major development going on. And the beautiful murals, the art around the city, gives the children something to reflect on when they step outside of their houses. All of that has had a positive impact on the community because [crime and safety are affected] by the environment as well.”

On Amazon Coming to Newark

“Newark is a progressing city, we have a history of ­being an industrial city, and I believe that Amazon should come here just like any other company. We have major opportunities here, we have a beautiful community of people, and I believe that the jobs will help the city with different issues in the community. Coming back to Newark would be a good thing!”