‘We need freedom,’ Newark Mayor Ras Baraka says in spoken word video

Posted Jun 04, 2020

“We want to love ourselves freely,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka says in a new video. “Unfettered images of our grandmothers in our dreams.”

“We need freedom," he says. “Not just the Bill of Rights but rights to build our own lives, to be free from destituteness and hatred and hungry children.”

As protesters march against the killing of black Americans at the hands of police, Baraka has released a video for words he wrote that speak to themes of long-overdue justice and liberty.

Called “What We Want,” the spoken word track is from his 2019 EP of the same name. The mayor filmed the video, directed by Ayana Stafford-Morris, at Newark Symphony Hall. Dancers perform as people appear with messages written on their faces: “no deportation," “truth," “equal pay," “free healthcare” and “reparations.”

“The message is more relevant now with the unrest in the black community and the protest around equality and justice,” Baraka, 50, told Rolling Stone. “We need more than justice in the moment — we need an overhaul of our systems. This is our opportunity as a people and world citizens to address the root of the larger issues that affect all our communities and the injustices that we deal with.”

Protests against racism and police brutality have taken place across the country after the May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, including a peaceful protest in Newark on May 30.

Baraka, who is known to end his briefings with poems, was a poet and spoken word artist before he was mayor of Newark. Last month, he joined talents like Jill Scott and local poets for a “Def Poetry Jam” reunion livestream that acted as a COVID-19 fundraiser for people in Newark. Both Baraka and his father, former state poet laureate Amiri Baraka, appeared on the original “Def Poetry Jam” series on HBO.

Ras Baraka’s previous recordings include the spoken word album “Shorty for Mayor." He also published the poetry collection “Black Girls Learn Love Hard."

The mayor’s voice can be found on the Fugees album “The Score” and Lauryn Hill’s “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill."

Do you like this post?

Be the first to comment