Gus Newport

Former Mayor of Berkeley, CA

From his early days as a civil rights activist alongside Malcolm X to his current role as a community economic-development consultant, Gus Newport has always been a champion of the people, helping to frame the nature of grassroots community organizing to benefit the underserved. Among his many notable distinctions are his roots in the civil rights movement, where he befriended Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell and helped found the Organization of African American Unity in 1964 before Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965. After serving as mayor of the city of Berkeley for seven years, Gus became director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) project in Boston, the very first example of an impoverished community taking back their neighborhood. Under Gus’s direction the DSNI was able to purchase large properties using eminent domain, allowing local residents to buy homes at affordable costs. The program—which has been ongoing in Boston since 1984—laid the groundwork for what is possible when a neighborhood is run “by and for the people.” Gus has continued to serve on numerous governmental and nonprofit agencies including the advisory board to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina; as faculty of higher education institutions such as Yale, M.I.T., and the University of California; and as a member of U.N. delegations advocating peace and justice. A father of two and resident of Berkeley, most recently Gus has been on the leadership committee of the National Council of Elders, an organization comprised solely of people over 65—each of whom played pivotal roles in the social justice movements of the 20th century—including civil rights, women’s rights, environmental rights, farm workers’ rights, and gay and lesbian rights.