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‘The City Needs Our Voice’: New Jersey Educator, Activist Declares Run for City Council Seat

Zellie Thomas

Activist Zellie Imani is a school teacher in Paterson, N.J. known for his work with the Black Lives Matter movement. (Image courtesy of Zellie Imani)

New Jersey activist and community organizer Zellie Thomas announced his bid for an at-large city council seat in Paterson on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

Thomas, better known as Zellie Imani, is now among 12 other candidates gunning for three available seats on the council, The Paterson Times reported. Pulling from his local activism and leadership within Black Lives matter, Thomas is working to spark a political revolution in the city of Paterson.

“I am a believer. I believe in people,” he said in an emailed statement. “I believe in the community. I believe in our desire to live and work in safe and healthy neighborhoods. I know, though, that many have long since stopped believing because of empty or broken promises.”

“My work and campaign is not about restoring faith in this broken system,” he added, “but faith in us working together to create a system that works for all of us.”

Thomas’ campaign will mainly focus on access to living wage jobs, affordable housing and quality education, among other things.

The local educator has led many protests against police brutality in the city and across the country, demanding justice for victims who have suffered violence at the hands of law enforcement officers. Early last year, Thomas also launched book subscription service Noir Reads, a program aimed at providing readers with a unique selection of books from a variety authors within the Black Diaspora.

Thomas was recognized by the state’s teachers union just last month for his work tackling social justice issues, according to the newspaper.

He has managed to raise a little over $2,500 of his $100,000 campaign goal.

“We are the leaders we’ve been waiting for,” Thomas said. “The city needs our voice. I am just the megaphone.”

To learn more about Zellie’s campaign or to donate, click here.

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