NEWARK, NJ — The 2016 Black History Celebration exhibit at The Newark Public Library, “We Found Our Way: Newark Portraits from the Great Migration,” centers on the narratives of the Krueger-Scott African-American Oral History Collection.
This collection, assembled in the late 1990s under the direction of Catherine J. Lenix-Hooker, captured the stories of Newark’s African-American citizens who migrated to the city between 1910-1970. The result is more than 100 interviews with men and women who left the segregated Jim Crow South to make better lives for themselves and their families. Lenix-Hooker emphasizes the importance of these interviews as not only “eyewitnesses to the city in the 21st century,” but also as a “solid body of evidence” documenting “the major contributions African-Americans have made to the city.”
Guest curator Samantha J. Boardman has combined photo portraits of interviewers and narrators by photographer Bill May, never-before-seen images from the Al Henderson portrait studio archive from the Newark Public Library’s Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center, and select fine prints from the library’s own world-class special collections to evoke the lives and times of these history makers. These different modes of portraiture along with the digital audio collages composed from the interviews themselves, and short documentary videos based on stories from the collection produced as part of the Newest Americans project at Rutgers Center for Migration and the Global City make “We Found Our Way” a joyful and intimate celebration of Newark’s Great Migration legacy.
Also included are works from the GlassBook Project: Provisions exhibition. This exhibit, by GlassBook Project founder and artist Nick Kline, artist-in-residence Adrienne Wheeler, Endless Editions, Samantha Boardman, and the Rutgers University-Newark Book Arts Class, features artist books made of glass inspired by narratives from the Krueger-Scott collection.
On Thursday, Feb. 4, the library will begin its annual celebration of Black History with an exhibit opening reception and program at the Main Library on 5 Washington St. from 6 to 8 p.m. The keynote speaker, John Franklin, is the senior manager, Office of External Affairs, The National Museum of African American History and Culture, The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. He will be joined by Catherine J. Lenix-Hooker and Samantha J. Boardman.
Additional programs organized by guest producer Celeste Bateman & Associates include a discussion “White Balance: Distortion of Black Images on Television,” by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Jonathan Capehart.
Capehart, who was born and raised in Newark and is a graduate of Saint Benedict’s Preparatory School, is a Washington Post editorial board member, PostPartisan blogger and MSNBC contributor. The talk will be on Saturday, Feb. 6, from 2 to 4 p.m. in Centennial Hall.
The documentary film “I Am Ali,” the life story of Muhammad Ali, will be shown in the James Brown African American Room on Thursday, Feb. 25 from 6 to 8 p.m.
On Saturday Feb. 27. from noon to 4 p.m., the library, in collaboration with the city of Newark, Department of Health and Community Wellness and the NAACP-Newark Chapter, will present, in Centennial Hall, “#Black Lives Matter-Newark,” a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Hanaa A. Handi, director, Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness, on the #Black Lives Matter movement from the perspective of community activists and social service practitioners. In conjunction with the discussion, senior citizens are invited to document their experiences in the city. These oral histories will be recorded by the Newark Chapter of the NAACP in the auditorium. Call 973-624-6400 to reserve one of the 18 spots.
“At We Lift Up Your Voices” on Saturday, March 12, from 2 to 5 p.m. in Centennial Hall, Five Women, a performance ensemble, recognizes Women’s History Month by celebrating in verse and song eight highly successful female singers from Newark.
On Tuesday, March 22 from from 6 to 8 p.m. in the auditorium, Linda Caldwell-Epps will present “Open Up the Door: I’ll Get It Myself: Migration Stories of Newark’s African American Women,” and Danielle Cooper will perform a spoken word poetry.
In addition, Krista White, the digital humanities librarian at Rutgers-Newark’s Dana Library, will demonstrate the Krueger-Scott Collection web portal.
Screenings of “A Place of Entry” and “We Came and Stayed,” short documentaries inspired by the narratives of the Krueger-Scott collection, will be followed by a discussion hosted by Tim Raphael, executive producer of “Newest Americans” and director of the Rutgers Center.
for Migration and the Global City, at The Legacy of the Krueger-Scott African-American Oral History Collection on Tuesday, April 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the auditorium. There will be a closing reception for the exhibit at this program presented in collaboration with the Center for Migration and the Global City, Rutgers-Newark.
The library will celebrate National Poetry Month on Saturday, April 9, from 2 to 5 p.m. in the auditorium with “Our NewArk: Poetry & Jazz,” hosted by The Breathing Poets Society’s founder, Breya “Blkbrry Molassez” Knight, at which several of Newark’s outstanding young poets “spit” their poems and rhymes accompanied by the Arts High School Jazz Band.
The exhibition, “We Found Our Way: Newark Portraits from the Great Migration,” opens on Feb. 4 and runs through April 9 in the Main Library’s second floor gallery during regular library hours. All programs are at the Main Library, 5 Washington St. To RSVP for any program or for more information call 973-733-7793. To check whether the library is open in the case of inclement weather, call 973-733-7800.