NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Kenneth Gibson, Newark’s first black mayor, has died at the age of 86.
Sen. Cory Booker praised Gibson on Twitter as “an incredible man.”READ MORE: House Committee Holds Hearings On Dueling Bills Regarding Puerto Rico's Potential Statehood
“Newark wouldn’t be where it is today without his steady stewardship,” the New Jersey senator said. “As the first African American mayor of a major city here in the Northeast, he was a big inspiration for me and countless others.”
Gibson served as mayor of Newark from 1970 to 1986, a period following what current Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka called “a tumultuous and difficult time as the city tried to recover from the Newark Rebellion” riots of 1967.
Baraka’s office issued a statement about the passing of Gibson:
Today the city stands still as we mourn the passing of one of our trailblazers. Ken Gibson became the first African American Mayor of a major city on the eastern seaboard. He led in a tumultuous and difficult time as the city tried to recover from the Newark Rebellion. He was helpful to me as I became Mayor of our city and helped me with the transition. He will be remembered in his effort to live up to his words, ‘Where the country is going, Newark will get their first.’ He set the stage for every African American elected official in this state. We stand on his accomplishment and grow from his challenges. We wish his family well. On behalf of the residents of this city we say thank you Mayor Gibson for your years of sacrifice and service.
At the time of his election, Baraka noted his late father, poet Amiri Baraka, helped Gibson get elected in 1970.MORE NEWS: Firefighter Daniel Foley, Who Died After Battling 9/11-Related Illness, Honored Posthumously At FDNY Medal Day
Prior to becoming mayor, Gibson worked as an engineer for the New Jersey Highway Department and later for the Newark Housing Authority.