We spend the hour speaking with Larry Hamm who is described as “a relentless advocate for African-American people and the cause of human rights for more than 30 years.” Larry is chair of the People’s Organization for Progress in Newark, NJ which he helped to found in 1983. His work focuses on education, jobs, health care, police brutality and issues that arise in the Black community. He is quoted saying, “But there’s a certain realization you come to about the tempo of social change. It’s not the same as the tempo in an individual life. It’s a much longer beat. And we just have to keep doing what we can to keep pushing the struggle forward.” He is a leading voice in the growing national movement to end racially-biased and violent policing which has been inspired most recently by the events in Ferguson. We talk about his life’s work, where he sees the movement and the work ahead of us.
Relevant articles and websites:
Larry Hamm, Powerhouse to the People by Donna Gialanella
Rebellion in Ferguson: A Rising Heat in the Suburbs by Chris Hedges
The Day After the Ferguson Grand Jury, Fill the Streets by Larry Hamm
Larry Hamm is a Civil Rights Activist, Humanitarian, and Lecturer. Lawrence Hamm has been a relentless advocate for African-American people and the cause of human rights for more than 30 years. Raised in Newark New Jersey, he attended public schools and emerged at age 17 as a forceful and articulate spokesperson for the educational needs and aspirations of Newark students and the community. He was appointed to the Newark Board of Education, making him the youngest school board member in the United States. While at Princeton University (Larry received his Bachelor’s degree there in 1978) Larry distinguished himself during the anti-apartheid movement by organizing student protests and calling attention to Princeton’s financial investment in apartheid South Africa. These protests, and the rising tide of public indignation, resulted in Princeton University’s divestment in the apartheid South African economy. Larry Hamm’s impact as a student activist at Princeton is chronicled in the documentary film, “Blacks at Princeton.” After graduation, Hamm returned to Newark and became active in local politics. He served as district leader and president of the 24th District Assembly. Larry was the founder and director of the People’s Energy Cooperative, a community fuel oil cooperative. He served as the Director of the Community Organization Program for the United Church of Christ Commission For Racial Justice. During 1986, Larry traveled with the Reverend Ben Chavis throughout the deep south to retrace the route of the 1960′s Freedom Rides. Chavis, Hamm and busloads of activists conducted voter registration drives in Alabama. Larry helped organize the People’s Organization For Progress (POP), an independent, grass roots, political organization that is active in the Newark and northern New Jersey area. As chairman, Larry has consistently worked toward building unity among community organizations. The struggle for quality education, employment opportunities, access to health care and against racial profiling, and police brutality continues through the efforts of its Chairman, Larry Hamm, and the activism of the organization’s members. Larry was received many awards, among them are “One Of The Most Influential Blacks in New Jersey Award” (City News) and “The Hope Shapiro Bread and Roses Peace Award” (New Jersey Peace Action).
Lawrence Hamm (Adhimu)
People’s Organization For Progress
P.O. Box 22505, Newark, New Jersey 07101