Gustav “Gus” Heningburg is perhaps most widely known for leading the effort to integrate the construction forces at Newark international Airport during its expansion in the 1970s. In 1972, under his leadership as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Newark Urban Coalition, Gus brought national attention to the airport’s practice of continually refusing construction contracts and retail space to minorities. He led Newark’s Black and Hispanic communities in shutting down construction on the $400 million airport redevelopment project until minorities were allowed access to airport contracts.
Heningburg’s successful negotiations with airport officials helped to orchestrate the development of a successful affirmative action policy known as the Newark Plan. It included a provision fur the training and employment of hundreds of Black and Hispanic construction workers. There are currently more minority business people at Newark Airport than at any other airport in the country. It became the basis for the development of similar affirmative action programs at other airports throughout me United States.
The Newark Plan was then piloted in other construction projects throughout Newark, including the UMDNJ and Rutgers University campuses. The Plan was later adopted by the State of New Jersey and still serves as a statewide guideline. It has been widely hailed as the most effective affirmative action plan in America. As a result of his efforts, Black and Hispanic construction workers [female as well as male] earned over two million dollars in wages from the development of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC).
Among the hundreds of awards Gus has been privileged to receive over the years, the one which means the most to him came from the Newark Welfare Rights Organization with the inscription: “Gus listens to us. He fights for us. And we love him.”
John Gamble Jr
Principal of Marion P. Thomas Charter School in Newark, NJ
Senior Vice President of the Kaufman Zita Group
Executive Director of the Children's Defense Fund - New York
Professor of Psychology at William Paterson University
Regional Development Director for UNCF
Advocates for Children of NJ
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"The atmosphere was positive and light, illuminating a vision of hope for the future generations to come and the view, naturally and spiritually bright."
Rev. Elizabeth Campbell