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Newark Public Library Presents Full Roster of Black History Month Programs
Press Release December 21, 2006
Please contact:
Anthony Clark - (973) 424-1831
Pam Goldstein - (973) 228-4559

The Newark Public Library will open its month-long salute to black history Thursday, February 1 at 6 p.m. with a tribute to literary critic and retired Rutgers professor, Dr. Ivan Van Sertima. The program will be held in Centennial Hall of the Main Library, 5 Washington Street, Newark.

A native of Guyana, South America, Dr. Van Sertima is also an anthropologist, well-known for his provocative publication, "They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America," in which he contends, "The African presence in America before Columbus is of importance not only to African and American history, but to the history of world civilizations." This presence, he maintains, is supported by stone heads, terra cottas, skeletons, artifacts, techniques and inscriptions, oral traditions, documented history, and by botanical, linguistic and cultural data.

Dr. Van Sertima was formerly professor of African studies in the Department of Africana Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Two noted historians, Dr. Clement A. Price, head of the Rutgers-Newark Institute on Culture, Ethnicity and the Modern Experience, and Dr. Leonard Jeffries, professor of Black Studies at City College in New York, will offer personal tributes to Dr. Van Sertima.

"We are pleased to be honoring Dr. Van Sertima and his outstanding contributions to understanding black history," noted Newark Public Library Director Wilma Grey. "His extensive record of scholarly publishing includes the founding of the Journal of African Civilizations," she explained.

The Van Sertima recognition will be followed by a reception. This program is open to the public without cost, as are all Black History Month events at The Newark Public Library.

The public is also invited to visit the Library’s Black History Month exhibit, The Creativity and Imagination of African American Women Writers in New Jersey, on the second floor of the Main Library January 22 through March 3, 2007. The guest curator is native Newarker, Dr. Sibyl Moses, author of African American Women Writers in New Jersey, 1836-2000: A Biographical Dictionary and Bibliographic Guide (Rutgers University Press). Dr. Moses is also the Reference Specialist in African American History and Culture at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

In keeping with that theme, there will be several book signings by New Jersey authors throughout January and February. All programs will take place in Centennial Hall, unless otherwise noted.

A book signing with Newarker T.D. Faison, author of Some Things Better Left Unsaid, will be held Thursday, January 25 at 6 p.m.

On Tuesday, February 6 at 6 p.m., Newark native, Shirley Stewart will sign and read excerpts from her book, Changes, a story of a humdrum marriage falling apart at its seams. Ralph Burgess, a resident of Orange, will talk about his anti-gang book for children, No Bandanas for Me/Staying Gang Free, Thursday, February 8 at 10 a.m. and also highlight the steps he took in publishing it.

Past president of Romance Writers of America, Shirley Hailstock, a best-selling, award-winning New Jersey author, who once aspired to join the space program, will read and discuss her latest book, My Lover, My Friend, Wednesday, February 14 at 6 p.m. In a final book signing and reading, Tuesday, February 27 at 6 p.m., Newark resident, Sonya Simpson will add her insight to the best selling “Chicken Soup” series with readings from her Chicken Soup for the African American Woman’s Soul. A compilation of stories from both modern day heroines and legendary African American women, the book highlights tales of courage and faith from such notables as Patti LaBelle, Queen Latifah, Andrea Blackstone, Blanche Williams, Lisa Nichols, and Mary McLeod Bethune.

Entering its 20th year, the Frances E. W. Harper Literary Society, named in honor of the author and abolitionist, will hold a staged reading of The Amen Corner, Wednesday, February 7 at 6:30 p.m. in the James Brown African American Room of the Main Library. The book group meets monthly to discuss African American authors.

Other events scheduled throughout February include a special program geared to young people entitled “Neighborhood,” which will be presented in Centennial Hall, Thursday, February 15 at 10 a.m. This musical theater production shows how a young woman viewing a group of historical figures learns how much she has in common with people of varied cultures.

Of interest to adult audiences is a presentation and primer on "The Art of Art Collecting," by George N’Namdi of the G.R. N’Namdi Gallery in New York on Thursday, February 22 at 6 p.m. The gallery owner will use a slide and visual presentation to demonstrate how to collect fine art, with an emphasis on African American women artists.

Additional programs for children and families are planned at the Main Library and community branches. For information on The Newark Public Library’s Black History Month programs or to arrange a group visit, please call 973-424-1831 or 973-733-5411 or visit For information on programs at the branch libraries visit


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