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Ken Gibson, first black Northeast major city mayor, dies

March 31, 2019

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Ken Gibson, who became the first black mayor of a major Northeast city when he ascended to power in riot-torn Newark almost five decades ago, has died. He was 86.

NJ.com reports that Gibson, who died Friday, served as the city’s mayor from 1970 to 1986, helping establish a foundation for black political power.

His wife, Camille Gibson, told NJ Advance Media that “He always thought that if you could help somebody, then that’s what you should do. That’s what he thought being the mayor was.”

Elected three summers after the devastating 1967 riots, Gibson is credited with stabilizing the city’s finances and improving citizens’ health.

He told NJ Advance Media in 2017 during the 50th anniversary of the riots that he was seeing the city’s reputation finally recover.