From Newark to Wakanda

From Newark to Wakanda

No matter where Michael B. Jordan goes he always comes back home.

Actor Michael B. Jordan, who portrayed EriK KilLmonger in this winter’s runaway hit Black Panther, came home to Newark just before the movie premiered to host a private screening of his own.

Jordan returned to his alma mater, Newark Arts High School, and invited ­students and special guests—including church organizations, members of the Boys and Girls Club of America, and Mayor Ras Baraka—to preview the movie, directed by Ryan Coogler and based on Marvel character Black Panther, aka King T’Challa of the fictional African country of Wakanda.

Currently living in California, Jordan, 31, has always kept close to his hometown of Newark on the East Coast. In 2015, Jordan came home to host a special screening of Creed, his most famous film at the time. It was during this visit that Newark Mayor Ras Baraka presented him with the key to the city, a rare and special honor.

Jordan came back most recently to share his excitement about the Black Panther film, the highest grossing superhero movie of all time. At press time, the movie had over $1.25 billion in ticket sales. “To be able to come back to my hometown on this project means the world to me,” he relayed to some of the press on-hand for the screening, explaining that it was a big deal for him to share his career, passion, and love of filmmaking with his community.

“I know how tough Newark is,” he continued. “I know what it’s like to feel trapped, like you don’t have many options or  opportunities. Hopefully, this movie will give [the community] a little inspiration, a little motivation, and help drive their ambition to get beyond these city walls.”

Having gotten an early start on his acting career in television, Jordan’s first substantial movie role was in the 2001 sports drama Hardball. He stayed visible on the big and small screens for the next several years, including a season on acclaimed HBO drama The Wire and the TV series Friday Night Lights.

After appearing in Red Tails (2012), a film about the Tuskegee Airmen, Jordan worked with Black Panther director Ryan Coogler for the first time in Fruitvale Station (2013), a film about the controversial police shooting of Oscar Grant. Jordan would go on to appear in a couple of other films, including Fantastic Four (2015), before landing what is considered his breakout role as Adonis Creed in Creed (2015), the last of the Rocky films, also directed by Coogler.

Now a bona fide “A-list” star, Jordan is being courted by Hollywood heavy hitters and international brands looking to have his face associated with their products. But while Jordan is enjoying his time in the spotlight, he remains humble and grateful and with a heart for giving back. And Newark is always happy to return the love.

Ask the Mayor – Spring 2018

Ask the Mayor – Spring 2018

Mayor Ras Baraka answers questions about youth issues.

How do you personally get involved with youth in the city?
—Elizabeth, 54

Once a month, we hold a Leadership Academy where I personally meet with a group of young people to discuss a wide range of important issues, including what they can do to make a difference. I established the Youth Ambassadors and the Newark Youth Office in City Hall to have a place devoted to young people and to encourage their participation in the life of our city.

What is being done to improve youth unemployment?
—Tiffany, 23

We have expanded our summer youth jobs program to over 3,000 participants. The program is now a unique mixture of education, workforce development and public safety. It’s no longer about just a paycheck.  The program offers pathways to success through advanced academics, high quality placements that match personal interests, financial literacy, and college and career readiness.

What can the city do to help our young people turn away from crime and stay in school?
—Mary, 63

The Newark Street Academy was created to help our young people complete their high school education and gain employment.  The Academy gives participants an alternative to crime and connects them to their community through participation in neighborhood improvement initiatives.

Where to Walk

Where to Walk

The advent of spring means you can get outside again! And what better way to get some fresh air and exercise than to take a walk.

You can find Newark walking trail apps on iTunes or Google Play. GPSMyCity on iTunes has suggested walks and articles with offline maps. The app contains photos and background information on the included attractions and works offline so you won’t have to use your data plan while walking. You can also pick up a map of walking trails from the Greater Newark Convention and Visitors Bureau at 60 Park Place, across from Military Park.

Other walking tours of various durations and distances can be found at

College for Teens and Younger

College for Teens and Younger

A college education can start long before a person’s first day as an undergraduate. These five local colleges and universities offer some form of prep course or pre-college instruction for high school and non-traditional students. There are even seasonal education courses for younger students. Check out what the schools have to offer.

Essex County College

Throughout the summer and on Saturdays in the spring and fall, Essex County College offers enrichment courses that introduce kids from preschool through high school to athletics, science and technology, writing, art, and practical math applications. The high school courses are more rigorous, and more closely resemble actual college classes in pace and subject matter.

Essex County’s spring and fall Saturday classes also include test prep for high schoolers getting ready for AP subject tests and college entrance exams, such as the ACT and SAT. As a part of PARCC—Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers—Essex County College offers test prep and college readiness programs for students as early as 3rd grade.

Contact the Office of Community and Continuing Education at 973-877-3400 for more information.


The mission of the NJIT Center for Pre-College Programs is to give minority students more access to STEM education and to expose children in elementary and secondary schools to more science and math instruction. The programs serve more than 3,000 students yearly.

The Center offers a robust catalog of pre-college programs, including SAT prep and a pre-engineering program for students as early as 4th grade. Some of the programs are specifically geared toward girls and young women, and offer instruction in robotics, chemical and biomedical engineering, and aeronautics. The Center also offers Academy College Programs, where high school students with outstanding GPAs can start earning college credits.

Contact the New Jersey Institute of Technology Center for Pre-College Programs at (973) 596-5368 for more information.

Seton Hall Law

Seton Hall Law offers a pre-legal program for students and professionals considering legal career tracks. Students live on campus during a five-week program and are introduced to legal writing, legal analysis, written legal communications, and oral advocacy. They can also choose two areas of focus out of four: contracts, criminal law, property, or constitutional law. Additionally, students receive training in stress and time management, take LSAT prep, and participate in career immersion workshops.

The pre-legal program is dedicated to the diversification of Seton Hall Law School as well as the legal field in general, and it’s designed to benefit students who are receiving grants through the New Jersey Educational Opportunity Fund or students eligible for these grants.

Contact Seton Hall Career Services at 973-642-8746 for more information.


Rutgers-Newark offers several early learning programs to ­assist a diverse body of students. Among them is Rutgers ­Future ­Scholars, a multi-year program for first-generation and low-income students. At the end of the program, the students are awarded a Rutgers-Newark scholarship. The Talent Search ­program offers ­financial, academic and career counseling to hopeful students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Rutgers-Newark Upward Bound program is a year-long college prep course that serves students from three high schools in the East Orange, NJ school district: Cicely L. Tyson Community School of the Performing and Fine Arts, East Orange Campus High School, and East Orange STEM Academy High School. And it’s free to all participants.

Contact the Rutgers-Newark Academic Foundations Center at 973-353-3574 for more information.

Berkeley College

Berkeley College’s Jumpstart Program is for students who have already been accepted to Berkeley but who need to hone their reading, writing, and math skills before they’re fully immersed in college-level courses. The program is offered each term to both high school and non-traditional students, and it’s available at no additional cost if taken the semester before the beginning of the student’s freshman year.

The courses in the Jumpstart Program can also be taken as part of a student’s freshman year course load but, in that instance, the student will be required to pay the regular tuition rate.

Contact the Berkeley College Office of Admissions at 800-446-5400, ext. WBW for information.

Newark: The Millennial Perspective

Newark: The Millennial Perspective

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!”

Know the Facts About Food Security

Know the Facts About Food Security

Students from all over the city of Newark came together to explore the issue of food security in a documentary supported by Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of New Jersey, and RWJBarnabas Health’s Social Impact and Community Investment Practice. The documentary, Food For Thought: The Path to Food Security in Newark, raises awareness about how important it is for a city’s residents to have access to fresh, nutritious food.

Here is what we learned:

According to Darrell K. Terry Sr., President and CEO of ­Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey, food security is contingent upon three things:

  1. Understanding what healthy food is
  2. Being able to afford it
  3. Having convenient access to it


What happens if you don’t have food security?

Without convenient access to fresh, nutritious food you may ­suffer from:

A. Health problems like obesity and diabetes
B. An inability to concentrate on work and schoolwork

What is being done about it in Newark?

  • Urban agriculture is becoming more popular with groups and individuals growing organic produce in vacant lots throughout the city.
  • Several churches and nonprofit organizations ­operate soup kitchens and food pantries.
  • Supermarket chains, such as Whole Foods, Food ­Depot and ShopRite, have moved into the city, giving residents much-needed variety and access to ­healthier food choices.

Food For Thought: The Path to Food Security in Newark

Pin It on Pinterest