Cornel West at Rutgers University

NEWARK, NJ — Gov. Phil Murphy made a stop in the Central Ward on Saturday to deliver remarks at the Golden Dome Athletic Center, where the grassroots organization People’s Organization for Progress hosted Cornel West for a Town Hall on social, racial and economic justice. 

Pumping his fist alongside POP Chairman Larry Hamm, West and Rutgers-Newark student organizers, Murphy joined in rallying cries for a stronger and fairer New Jersey as he laid out what his administration is doing to build a state that serves all its citizens. The governor took stock of the progress made and challenges ahead in creating equity across race and class lines.

“We’re on that journey together, but we’re not there. This is the long struggle,” Murphy said. “We’re making progress, and we’re doing that together. 

The appearance comes on the heels of Murphy’s announcement that the state will require teachers to travel to transatlantic slave sites year-round to better understand and provide instruction on black history, a decision that satisfies compliance with a longstanding state mandate. This year, New Jersey also became one of two states to mandate LGBTQ history education.

Moving forward, Murphy said his administration will work to incorporate climate change education in New Jersey schools. He also reaffirmed his commitment to implementing a $15 an hour minimum wage in 2021 and support for Planned Parenthood, which he said will continue to receive funding in New Jersey going forward despite its withdrawal from Title X. 

The Trump administration recently amended Title X to include a gag rule that forces reproductive health care providers to withhold information from patients. On Nov. 14, the state legislature held its first hearing on a bill to ensure patients of Planned Parenthood health centers can access affordable reproductive health care services through $9.5 million in emergency funding. The state Assembly is expected to vote on the bill this Monday.   

Referring to himself as a pro-growth progressive, Murphy said that his approach to social equity is informed by an objective to expand the state’s economic standing and secure funding that will pay for social programming and initiatives. 

“We are doing the work together. We don’t make economic progress without social progress, and we don’t make social progress without economic progress,” he said.