Former Residents of Scudder Homes Public Housing Project Tell Their 1967 Stories

Jul 4, 2017

Five former Scudder Homes residents say their story about the days before and after the Newark Rebellion have never been told.
Credit Doug Doyle for WBGO

Attorney and Essex County College professor Linda McDonald Carter is tired about reading how terrible things were for those who lived in the Scudder Homes projects in the 1960's.

Carter and four of her closest friends from that neighborhood came into WBGO to talk to News Director Doug Doyle about their lives before and after the 1967 Rebellion.

Linda McDonald Carter's "community brothers" joined her in the WBGO studios.  Yusuf Abdur-Mutakabbir, Reggie Reid, Leon "Pop" Lassiter and Sidney H. Smith Jr. all gave their impressions of what it was like to be a teenager during the summer of '67.

McDonald Carter says newspapers and magazines have always misrepresented life in the projects, especially for those who lived in Scutter Homes in the 1960's:

"The reason why we are all here today is to give people a picture of the cultural community that we had before '67, to give people a picture of the significance and the value of the community that existed before. And that story has not been told.  So there are a lot of changes for example, when we talk about guns in the community, we talk about drugs, most people don't know, in particular our young people in our community and it's not taught in the schools, that there were basically no guns in the neighborhood. On occasion maybe a switchblade, or maybe a 22, but rarely were there any weapons.  In the neighborhood, boxing was king.  To prove and establish your manhood was not to have a weapon, but was to show you could box in the neighborhood."

The male guests say they were all there when the looting took place during the rebellion.  Yusef Abdur-Mutakabbir was 16 years old at the time:

"I walked around on Broome Street and the National Guard was standing..and there was a pawn shop there, and they were telling us not to come on Springfield Avenue, so we turned around to walk back and the National Guard started shooting at us.  We were running toward the hallway and an older gentleman was running behind me.  Had he not been behind me, it would be me they shot.  He got shot and fell on the back of my legs and I fell into the hallway."

Scudder Homes Housing project in Newark
Credit Getty Images

Most of the guests say that week in July changed their lives dramatically.  They get together every August for a reunion and consider Scudder Homes to be a success because of the people who lived there.  Even though they knew the buildings were poorly constructed, they say their homes were clean and their spirit was never broken.

Click above to hear the hour conversations that was airs on the WBGO Journal on July 8th at 6am on 88.3FM and www.wbgo.org.