CHIGOZIE was born to working class parents in Newark, NJ. He spent his early years in the former Hill Manor Apartments, an affordable housing complex in the city’s Central Ward, and later lived in different parts of Essex County. He is now a homeowner in the West Ward, just steps away from where his parents first shared an apartment, started a family, and established their love for the City of Newark.
Chigozie developed his commitment to justice and equity from his experiences in suburban public schools. At 18 years old, just after graduating from high school, he ran for School Board Member in the Maplewood/South Orange School District. Chigozie ran because the public schools had an unjust tracking system. Black students were disproportionately tracked in remedial and lower-level courses, while white students were overwhelmingly placed in honors classes. The local teacher’s union endorsed his candidacy, and his progressive campaign energized students and parents. He came up short on Election Day, but he learned that when we fight, we win, even if it does not happen right away. After the election, the Superintendent agreed to retire, the high school principal did not receive tenure, and tracking began in high school, rather than middle school, for science and social studies. And just last year, the school district settled a lawsuit with Black parents that requires them to take steps to integrate classrooms.
NNJDSA is proud to endorse Chigozie Onyema for West Ward in Newark! Chigozie will fight for housing justice, reimagine public safety, and grow a “solidarity economy” that reinvests in the working class of Newark. NNJDSA is going to donate, volunteer & organize for this campaign.