Ken Gibson, Newark’s first black mayor, dies at 86

Julie Daurio, Producer | April 1, 2019 | Politics

Ken Gibson, the first black mayor of Newark, has died at 86.

Gibson served four terms as Newark mayor, from 1970 to 1986, and was the first black man to lead a major Northeast city.

Born in Alabama in 1932, Gibson moved to Newark with his family when he was eight years old.

He attended Newark College of Engineering, now the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and worked as an engineer for the Newark Housing Authority.

Gibson’s first mayoral campaign in 1966 was unsuccessful. But three summers after the 1967 riots that devastated Newark and led to a white flight from the city, Gibson ran for office again and won.

Though Gibson was never convicted of a crime relating to his time in office, in 2002 he pleaded guilty to tax evasion and was put on probation.

He is credited with reviving the city’s economy following the riots. Gibson has said his proudest achievement as mayor was creating health centers to improve the well-being of Newark’s citizens.

He is survived by his wife, Camille Gibson, and four daughters.