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Gus Newport: A Lifetime of Community Building and Activism

Former mayor of Berkeley, California, Gus Newport has spent his life dedicated to activism and community building.

Gus Newport and Jane Fonda in Alabama in 2019, photo from The Progressive Magazine.

At Thriving Communities, we are proud to have Gus Newport on our board of directors. Newport has spent his life dedicated to activism and community building, inspired by his grandmother and mother, who were both ardent activists.

Newport's journey started in his late teens in Rochester, New York, where he worked in the civil rights movement and helped found the Organization of African American Unity. In 1974, he led an employment program in Berkeley, California, and became known as a progressive organizer. He was elected mayor of Berkeley in 1979 and served until 1986, where he ordered police not to arrest immigrants due to their status and served on the United Nations Committee Against Apartheid and the Committee on the Question of Palestine.

After his tenure as mayor, Newport headed the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Boston, which revived a neighborhood that had looked like a war zone. The effort became a national model for sustainable change and is documented in two award-winning films: Holding Ground and Gaining Ground.

Newport continues to consult for Thriving Communities, an organization inspired by the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative. He remains politically active, campaigning for Bernie Sanders and supporting progressive positions on climate change, gun control, and Medicare for All.

Now in his 80s, Newport serves on the leadership committee of the National Council of Elders, which is an organization of people over sixty-five who were involved in the major social justice movements of the last part of the twentieth century. Newport's belief in building the Beloved Community continues to inspire and motivate us at Thriving Communities. As he says, "If we want a better future for the next generation, we need to build a movement that is strategic and constant!"

We are honored to have Gus Newport as a member of our board, and we look forward to continuing to learn from his lifetime of experience and leadership.

Read the full story in The Progressive Magazine.

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