Black History Month Activities Abound In New Jersey
Exhibits, Performances and Lectures across the Garden State Celebrate the African-American Experience in New Jersey
(TRENTON, NJ) – Black History Month 2012 offers a wealth of activities celebrating African-American history, culture and contributions across New Jersey. From large scale educational conferences, events celebrating African-American art, literature, and dance to gatherings showcasing the State’s critical role in the Underground Railroad, there’s no shortage of highlights for residents and visitors alike throughout February.
“You won’t have to look far to find compelling activities celebrating Black History Month in New Jersey,” said Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, who oversees the Division of Travel and Tourism as Secretary of State. “With our diverse collections of seminars, museum exhibits, fine performances and unique artwork spanning New Jersey, you’ll find outlets to explore the State’s rich African-American history and culture in every direction.”
The month kicks off with the Newark Public Library’s two-month series and exhibit on blacks in theater, entitled "We Wear the Mask: From 1700s to 2012.'' The opening reception celebrates the birthday of Langston Hughes. For details call 973-733-5411 or www.npl.org.
Black History Month provides another great reason to check Monmouth University’s events programmed to celebrate African American heritage. Beginning February 1, a flag raising ceremony and reception will be held featuring the Monmouth University Choir and throughout the month, participants can enjoy reading excerpts by acclaimed poets. Negro League Baseball expert Larry Hogan will present “Before You Can Say ‘Jackie Robinson’: Black Baseball in America & NJ in the Era of the Color Line” and visitors can also appreciate a lecture on the “Klan-Destine Relationships” by race relations experts. For additional information on Black History Month at Monmouth University, call 732-571-3526.
New Jersey’s largest and most prestigious conference commemorating Black History Month celebrates its 32nd anniversary on February 18 at the Paul Robeson Campus Center on the Rutgers University’s Newark Campus. This year’s free event and program “Taking Good Care: A History of Health and Wellness in the Black Community,” will examine the intersection of health and race in American life. Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former Surgeon General of the United States under President Clinton, will deliver the Marion Thompson Wright Lecture, Health Disparities in Black America. The audience is invited to attend a free reception featuring live musical entertainment by The Bradford Hayes Trio at The Newark Museum. For information, visit http://ethnicity.rutgers.edu or call 973-353-3891.
On February 18th, the Red Bank Public Library will present “Out of Africa,” an exhibit that focuses on the artistic culture of Africa in America. African art and textiles will be showcased along with foods that Americans enjoy that originated in Africa. An accompanying documentary produced by Frank Talk Multi-Media Network and filmed at the historic Newark Museum features the museum’s “African Narratives” permanent collection and gives in-depth insight into African symbolism and art. In addition, Dr. Gretna Wilkinson, Red Bank Regional High School Visual and Performing Arts Academy creative writing teacher, will read selections from her recently published book of poetry, Opening the Drawer. For more information, visit www.lmxac.org/redbank or call 732-842-0690.
McCarter Theatre Center for the Performing Arts in Princeton is also celebrating the nation’s African-American culture with a special viewing of the Grammy award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir. Described as “one of the most exciting vocal ensembles to emerge from South Africa since the days of Ladysmith Black Mambazo,” its 25 members, augmented by live musicians and dancers, perform a program of tribal, traditional and popular African gospel – plus modern Western spiritual and international pop. And they do it in no less than eight different languages, including Zulu, Sotho, and Xhosa, as well as English. From Amazing Grace and The Lion Sleeps Tonight to Otis Redding and the reggae of Jimmy Cliff, the Soweto Gospel Choir is one group that can truly be said to take an audience by storm. For ticket information, call 609-258-ARTS (2787) or visit www.mccarter.org.
The City of Burlington Historic District provides another great reason to get out and enjoy the crisp February air, with a walking tour of the town’s sites. The tour includes the Oliver Cromwell House, the final residence of African-American Revolutionary War soldier Oliver Cromwell, one of the approximately 5,000 who served. Decorated for serving during the entire conflict, Cromwell crossed the Delaware with General George Washington on December 25, 1776, and later had his discharge papers personally signed by the future president. For more information on the tour, visit http://www.tourburlington.org/TourUGRR.html.
Check out www.VisitNJ.org and search through the State’s tourism website for a full calendar of events, find valuable travel deals, festivals and happenings around the Garden State.