Library System Announces Programs Celebrating Black History
The National Jazz Museum among performers to visit Somerset County this February
(Somerset County, NJ: January 3, 2017) Somerset County Library System of New Jersey’s 10 library branches will explore history and culture for Black History Month.
“As an important center for education and discovery, our Library System encourages learning through different avenues, such as music, literature, and art,” said Carolann DeMatos, SCLSNJ director of marketing and public relations. “From the end of January through the beginning of March, our libraries are offering a wide variety of wonderful programs focused on Black History. We will have a poster exhibit celebrating the opening of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture on display at our Manville Library branch for the month of February; there will be additional art on display throughout the Library System. There will be curated book displays to make the materials more easily available. You can even stream jazz music for free any time using your library card with Naxos Jazz. There are just so many opportunities to explore this rich history and culture with your library.”
Details of Black History Month offerings at SCLSNJ’s library branches are below.
SCLSNJ Black History Programs
Take the ‘A’ Train: A Musical Performance by Follow the Drinking Gourd Trio
January 28, 2-3 p.m. at SCLSNJ’s North Plainfield Memorial Library branch, located at 6 Rockview Avenue in North Plainfield
The musical trio Follow the Drinking Gourd, composed of singers Shannon Hunt and Ivan Woods and pianist Diane Goldsmith, will perform hits from the 1920s and 1930s and offer commentary on the phenomenon known as the Harlem Renaissance. All ages are welcome.
Freedom Summer 1964*
February 4, 2-4 p.m. at SCLSNJ’s Somerville Library branch, located at 35 West End Avenue in Somerville
Explore the grand ambitions and unmet hopes of youthful activism during The Freedom Summer campaign in Mississippi with this movie viewing and discussion led by Professor Christopher Fisher of The College of New Jersey. This program is appropriate for teens and adults.
The Rise of Lincoln: 1831-1860
February 4, 2:30-3:30 p.m. at SCLSNJ’s Bridgewater Library branch, located at 1 Vogt Drive in Bridgewater
Learn how this politically brilliant ‘self-made’ man overcame many obstacles and wealthy opponents to be the moral force to galvanize a nation to fight and win the American Civil War. The presenter, Glenn W. LeBoeuf is a member of the Abraham Lincoln Association, The Civil War Trust, and New York Lincoln Society. This program is appropriate for adults.
A Proud Heritage: Stoutsburg Cemetery
February 9, 7-8:30 p.m. at SCLSNJ’s Mary Jacobs Memorial Library branch, located at 64 Washington Street in Rocky Hill
Beverly Mills and Elaine Buck will cover the arrival of African Americans to America, as well as information about notable figures and their contributions to the Sourland Mountains, Hopewell Valley, and the surrounding areas. The lives of the men and women buried in the Stoutsburg Cemetery, including the veterans, will be discussed. This program is appropriate for adults.
The National Jazz Museum presents: A Celebration of Duke Ellington
February 11, 2-4 p.m. (Snow date February 18, 2-4 p.m.) at SCLSNJ’s Bridgewater Library branch, located at 1 Vogt Drive in Bridgewater
Celebrate Duke Ellington with a talk and performance by the National Jazz Museum in Harlem All-Stars, led by its founding director, renowned jazz saxophonist Loren Schoenberg. This program is appropriate for adults.
Mississippi Freedom Summer: Race, Religion & Resistance
February 11, 2-3 p.m. at SCLSNJ’s North Plainfield Memorial Library branch, located at 6 Rockview Avenue in North Plainfield
In the summer of 1964, Brooks Smith, a North Plainfield resident and retired Presbyterian minister, volunteered in Mississippi with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He will discuss his experiences and the importance the event played in civil rights history. This program is appropriate for teens and adults.
Black National News Service: The Associated Negro Press*
February 15, 7-8:30 p.m. at SCLSNJ’s Warren Township Library branch, located at 42 Mountain Boulevard in Warren Township
Guest speaker Dr. Lawrence Hogan, Ph.D., a professor of History at Union County College, will give a presentation about the story of the Associated Negro Press and the great newspapers it served during the golden age of America’s Black 4th Estate, an era when the ANP could be termed “the greatest single power in the Negro race.” This program is appropriate for adults.
Before You Can Say “Jackie Robinson”: Black Baseball in America and New Jersey in the Era of the Color Line*
February 18, 2-3 p.m. at SCLSNJ’s Manville Library branch, located at 100 South 10th Avenue in Manville
This presentation by history professor Dr. Lawrence Hogan includes exhibit materials, as well as selections from the acclaimed video documentary. The program will feature a rendition of the unique “Breaking the Line with the Mudville Nine,” a Negro League version of “Casey at the Bat,” by storyteller, poet, and actor Kevin Kane. Veteran Negro League baseball player James Robinson will also share his experiences.This program is appropriate for teens and adults.
Sojourner Truth: “Ain’t I a Woman?”*
February 21, 6-7:30 p.m. at SCLSNJ’s Somerville Library branch, located at 35 West End Avenue in Somerville
Guest Performer, Dr. Daisy Century of the American Historical Theatre, will tell the story of Isabella Baumfree, who changed her name to Sojourner Truth and walked through Long Island and Connecticut preaching “God’s truth and plan for salvation.” This program is appropriate for teens and adults.
Vegan Cooking: Soul Food
February 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at SCLSNJ’s North Plainfield Memorial Library branch, located at 6 Rockview Avenue in North Plainfield
Celebrate Afro-Vegan cooking with a recipe by renowned vegan soul food cookbook author Bryan Terry. Presented by Alana Danois. This program is appropriate for adults.
From Jazz to Soul with Jazz Singer Rhonda Denét and the Silver Fox Duo
February 23, 7-8 p.m. at SCLSNJ’s Hillsborough Library branch, located at 379 South Branch Road in Hillsborough
Rhonda Denét and the Silver Fox Duo will pay tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Etta James, Martha & The Vandellas, Gladys Knight, and more with a performance of music from the 1930s through the 1970s. This program is appropriate for adults.
The Forgotten Revolutionary War Around Somerset County and the Role of African Americans
February 25, 2-3 p.m. at SCLSNJ’s Bridgewater Library branch, located at 1 Vogt Drive in Bridgewater
In New Jersey, most towns were impacted in some way by the war, however, many battlefields, encampments, and sites of critical events of the Revolutionary War here have been lost or neglected by history. Local historian Bob Mayers will revisit these forsaken locations with fresh research from original military records and on-site visits. This program is appropriate for adults.
Mostly Motown with Jazz Singer Rhonda Denét and the Silver Fox Duo
March 4, 2-3 p.m. at SCLSNJ’s Bound Brook Memorial Library branch, located at 402 East High Street in Bound Brook
Rhonda Denét and the Silver Fox Duo will perform classic rhythm & blues and soul songs from the 1960s and 1970s featuring songs made famous by Mary Wells, Martha & The Vandellas, The Supremes, Dionne Warwick, Roberta Flack, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and others. All ages are welcome.
*This program is funded by the Horizons Speakers Bureau of the NJ Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Registration for these programs is required. For more information or to register, visit SCLSNJ.org or contact your local library branch.
SCLSNJ Black History Art Displays
SCLSNJ’s Bridgewater Library branch
Teen artists from the Bridgewater Raritan High School will display artwork created under the direction of art teacher Renee Post at the Library during the month of February.
SCLSNJ’s Bound Brook Memorial Library branch
Local school children’s artwork will be displayed throughout the month of February. Additionally, local artist Jeleata Nicole will be the featured artist at the Library, displaying her artwork focused on a variety of famous black icons.
SCLSNJ’s Hillsborough Library branch
Hillsborough Elementary School’s first grade students, led by art teacher Laurel Suk, will be displaying their Story Quilt projects during the month of February. The creations are inspired by African American painter/writer Faith Ringgold.
SCLSNJ’s Manville Library branch
Artwork created by local schoolchildren will be on display all February long. Additionally, “A Place for All People: Introducing the National Museum of African-American History and Culture” poster exhibition will be on view for the month. Organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in collaboration with National Museum of African American History and Culture, this poster exhibition highlights key artifacts that tell the rich and diverse story of the African American experience.
SCLSNJ’s Mary Jacobs Memorial Library branch
Throughout the month of February, the Youth Services area will feature an interactive bulletin board that will encourage children to learn about African American musicians, listen to jazz, and get inspired to create artwork to put on display.
SCLSNJ’s North Plainfield Memorial Library branch
Local students’ artwork will be on display on Saturday, February 4, 2-4 p.m.
SCLSNJ’s Peapack & Gladstone Library branch
Children from the Willow School in Gladstone will display artwork created under the direction of art teacher Susan Palmer at the Library throughout the month of February.
SCLSNJ’s Somerville Library branch
During the month of February, Van Derveer Elementary School students will display works of art inspired by African Americans. There will be a reception for the students and their families on Tuesday, February 28, 5:30-7 p.m.
SCLSNJ’s Warren Township Library branch
During the month of February, visit the Library’s children’s area to view artwork created by ALT School students under the direction of the K-5 art teacher Donna Pellagrino.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Black History, SCLSNJ’s expert librarians recommend using African-American History Online, an online resource available for free with your SCLSNJ library card.
For more information about all the ways to explore Black History with SCLSNJ, visit SCLSNJ.org or contact your local library branch.
About Somerset County Library System of New Jersey
Somerset County Library System of New Jersey (SCLSNJ) partners with you to connect, to explore, to share and to discover. Together we enrich lives, expand knowledge and strengthen communities. SCLSNJ branches can be found in Bridgewater, Bound Brook, Hillsborough, Manville, North Plainfield, Peapack & Gladstone, Rocky Hill at Mary Jacobs Memorial Library, Somerville, Warren Township and Watchung. Additionally, there are two SCLSNJ reading stations in Branchburg and Washington Valley. Visit SCLSNJ.org for further information about library services offered at SCLSNJ.