Speaker series at Newark Public Library features city's "living history"

A prominent local historian and author launched a speaker series at the main branch of the Newark Public Library on January 19 designed to create a narrative that weds the city's past with Newark now. 

"These people are living history. They can fill in the gaps about people, places and events that occurred in Newark that they experienced first-hand," said Guy Sterling, a downtown Newark resident who is coordinating the speaker series at the library called Newark Lifetimes: Recollections & Reflections as part of a collection of events marking the city's 350 anniversary. "There is no better source than that." 

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Guy Sterling and Donald Karp discuss Newark's history at the Newark Library.

Scheduled to participate in the series, which will extend through the rest of the year, are former Newark mayors Kenneth Gibson and Sharpe James, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr., Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura, New Jersey boxing commissioner Larry Hazzard, former New York Yankee Rick Cerone, singer Gloria Gaynor, dancer Savion Glover and his mother, jazz vocalist Yvette Glover.

Donald Karp, a longtime attorney and banking executive, was the first speaker in the series on January 19. He told his story of what it means to come from a culturally rich city such as Newark. Colorful, too: Karp recounted watching boxing on television with Mayor Meyer Ellenstein, Newark's first and only Jewish mayor, as well as horse racing at Weequahic Park. He also served as a congressional page for Peter Rodino, the Newark congressman who later chaired the impeachment hearings of Richard Nixon following the Watergate scandal. 

Karp, now in his late 70's, played an anchor role in stabilizing Newark after the 1967 civil disturbances shook the city to its core. Now, when Karp comes downtown to get his favorite corned beef sandwich at Hobby's Delicatessen, he finds that getting to the core of Newark has changed in recent years.

"A lot of people were running out of Newark in 1967," Karp said. "But now, when I drove down here tonight, I was in a traffic jam." 

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