LAWRENCE HAMM: A Life in the Struggle by Lawrence Hamm with Annette Alston
Lawrence Hamm’s life links the most powerful social movements of the last 50 years. Appointed to the Newark, New Jersey Board of Education in 1971 at the age of 17, he balanced the radical world of Newark’s Black Power Movement with a racially-divided city’s practical public policy concerns. What were his rewards? Harsh criticism in the press, dropping out of Princeton University, being publicly attacked by the man who appointed him—Kenneth Gibson, Newark’s first Black mayor—and an attempted framing on a gun he never had. It’s the story of how one man juggled Princeton, the power and contradictions of the People’s Struggle, employment in corporate America, marriage and fatherhood, with some days being better than others. His greatest accomplishment was helping to found the People’s Organization for Progress, a grassroots activist group that for the past 39 years has been a fixture in New York tri-state area activist circles. From fighting to free Mandela in the 1970s and 1980s to protesting local police brutality cases in George Floyd/Breonna Taylor 2020 and beyond, this autobiography—an intimate portrait of one man who took his elite education, tremendous oratory skills and well-honed stamina and created a transmutational spear from it—documents how he always knew his journey meant nothing without the People.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lawrence Hamm, a candidate in New Jersey’s Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate in 2020, has been involved in every major social movement in the state for the last fifty years. As a nineteen-year-old, student activist from Arts High School in Newark, he was appointed to the Newark Board of Education in 1971 by Kenneth Gibson, the city’s first Black mayor. Hamm was inspired to become a community activist because of the example of internationally known playwright/poet/activist Amiri Baraka. A graduate of Princeton University, he was part of the student leadership cadre that had a major campus anti-apartheid protest in the 1970s, years before the anti-apartheid movement became dominant on American campuses. He founded the People’s Organization for Progress (POP) in 1983. POP, an independent, grassroots organization, became a recognized leader in New Jersey’s anti-apartheid and Million Man March movements. A proud father of three daughters who are Rutgers graduates, he has been involved in fighting for quality education, employment opportunities and access to health care and against racial profiling and police brutality. POP, joined by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and other activist organizations, led a successful, nonviolent protest and rally in Newark of more than ten thousand after the 2020 murder of George Floyd.
Annette M. Alston is an award-winning writer. Her book, Harriet Tubman for Beginners, has received national recognition. Her three-part series on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Newark Rebellion was printed in The New York Amsterdam News and the Newark City News where it won a NNPA Merit Award, among the highest honors for journalism in the Black press. A retired Newark public school teacher in primary and secondary education, she is skilled in nonprofit organizations, event planning, grant writing, literacy, and coaching. She is a former leader of the Newark Education Association union and stalwart member of the People’s Organization for Progress and her South Ward-based church, Greater Life Ministries. She worked with Hamm for two years on this book. A cat lover, her first book—Sheri Berry, the Scritch Scratch Cat—is a fictional children’s story about her first cat.
Biography, politics, sociology/AFRICAN AMERICAN
Page Count: 282