Back in 2009, in honor of Black History Month, Congressman Donald Payne rose on the House floor to celebrate the achievements of four "unsung heroes" from Newark and nearby Irvington.
One of those heroes was Lawrence Hamm, chairman of the Newark-based People's Organization for Progress (POP), an organization he helped found 25 years ago to promote peace and social justice. Recognized in high school for his leadership in a student protest against a lengthy teachers' strike, he was named to the Newark School Board at age 17, the youngest school board member in the country.
Hamm will be speaking at the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood (USR) on February 1, 2013 on "The Politics of Urban Education: Newark and Paterson." The event is co-sponsored by the Bergen County Branch of POP and USR's Anti-Racism and Education Justice Committees.
"What is loosely called 'education reform' seems to most of us to be 'public education decimation,'" said Margaret White of USR's Anti-Racism Committee. "Larry will talk about the current climate of political attacks on public education and the impact on schools and families."
"Our members started working with children’s programs in Paterson over 40 years ago," noted Sally Lewis, who chairs the USR Education Justice Committee. "The needs of children in Paterson persist and the momentum for a partnership and for activism continues to build within our congregation." More than 20 USR adults volunteer in preschool, public school, or community-based after-school programs on Paterson’s north side; others run and help fund Citizens for Swimming, which provides swim lessons for Paterson kids at Ridgewood’s Graydon Pool during the summer months.