On Oct. 4 and 5, leaders from across New Jersey assembled on the campus of NJIT for the 36th Black Leadership Conference sponsored by the New Jersey Black Issues Convention (NJBIC), an organization founded in 1983 to establish a network of communication and cooperation among predominantly Black organizations in New Jersey.
New Jersey Governor Philip Murphy, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka and NJIT President Joel S. Bloom were among those who spoke on the importance and impact that the NJBIC has on critical issues affecting the community, especially economic issues.
“Everything that we aim to do will not be able to have a lasting, positive impact on our state if we do not create a strong, growing, dynamic and diverse economy that welcomes every family into its ranks with new jobs and opportunities,” said Murphy. “You can’t make economic progress without social progress, but you can’t make social progress without economic progress -- they aren’t at odds with each other, they go hand in glove.”
Bloom spoke on the impact of education, and how NJIT is a leading university in progressing minority students economically upward.
“We are the most diverse polytechnic university in the country. We were identified as the number one university for taking economically poor kids, the lowest quintile of family income, and after four to five years of school and 10 years of employment, and they are now in the upper quintile of earnings,” said Bloom, referencing NJIT’s No. 1 ranking for economic mobility published by the New York Times and Forbes.
Baraka stressed the importance of productivity that these gatherings aim to achieve. “We still live in the fourth-most segregated state in the nation,” Baraka said. “Systemic issues still exist, which means that we need a black issues convention.”
Over 20 workshops, breakout sessions and forums addressed a number of topics, each one focusing on a different issue like social justice, job creation, housing policy, health disparity, fair law enforcement, voter registration, and education.
The conference concluded with a chairman’s reception saluting top appointed and elected New Jersey officials from the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus, New Jersey Urban Mayors Association, New Jersey Black Elected Officials Policy Alliance, South Jersey Legislative Black Caucus and NJBIC Black Mayors Alliance for Social Justice.