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Library announces Black History Month programs
Press Release January 17, 2002

The Newark Public Library will hold a reception on Thursday, January 31, opening the exhibition Original Prints by African-American Artists Plus Unique and Related Works on Paper. The event, which is open to the public, begins at 6pm and inaugurates the Library’s programming in celebration of Black History Month. Authors Patrick Henry Bass and Karen Pugh will be the evening’s keynote speakers. 

William J. Dane, the library’s Keeper of Prints and Posters, curated Original Prints from the Special Collections of The Newark Public Library. This celebration of Black history is on view on the main library’s second-floor gallery through February 28 during regular library hours: Monday, Friday and Saturday from 9am to 5:30pm, and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9am to 8:30pm. For answers to general questions and additional information on the exhibition (only), patrons may call Mr. Dane at (973) 733-7745.

The work of several New Jersey and Newark artists has been especially selected for the occasion. These artists include Gladys Grauer, Roy Crosse, Florian Jenkins and Jacob Lawrence, who was born in Atlantic City in 1917. The exhibition also features works by Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, James L. Wells, James E. Jones and Benny Andrews, among many others. A highlighted item is The Flight, an original woodblock print by African-American artist James Lesesne Wells, who was born in 1902 in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Wells was a painter, lithographer, etcher, illustrator and teacher who eventually received wide recognition for his work. 

In addition to prints, the exhibition includes selected autographs, historic posters and books relating the history of African-American art, illustrated books for young people (including Mumbo Jumbo, published by Calloway in 2000 with stunning illustrations and amusing text by Michael Roberts who has been described as "the scissors-wielding wizard of snip"), and contemporary artists’ books.

Signed photograph portraits are presented, including those for Mirian Anderson, The Platters (who were a major singing group from an earlier generation), and Newark’s own Sarah Vaughan. Of particular interest is a letter from Booker T. Washington to the Director of The Newark Public Library dated January 1915, commenting on a welcome book donation from Newark to The Tuskegee Institute of which Mr. Washington was the acclaimed Director. A portrait of Frederick Douglass by Ben Shahn is included among the prints, as well as a 1930 color lithographic portrait of Paul Robeson by American graphic artist Mabel Dwight whose work is now widely celebrated.

Funding for this festive celebration has been provided in part by The New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and administered by the Essex County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs, and by the New Jersey Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission. 

Following is a complete listing of the library’s programs in its Black History Month celebration. For additional information on the programs (not the exhibition) patrons may call Herb Williams at (973) 733-3610, or they may visit the library’s website at 

Original Prints by African American Artists Plus Unique & Related Works on Paper
, curated by William J. Dane.
Second Floor Gallery; Through February 28


19 Experience the richness of African-American traditions as Sharon McGruder combines movement, songs and real-life experiences with a variety of African tales, myths and stories in this Hooray for Children program. Centennial Hall; 2pm

31 Opening Reception for exhibition and programming. Keynote address by Patrick Henry Bass and Karen Pugh, authors of In Our Own Image, a lavishly illustrated and eloquently written chronicle of the Black community from the postwar period to the present. A book signing will feature books at a discount. Centennial Hall; 6pm


2 A showing and discussion of Legacy, a film that reveals the incredible struggles of an inner-city ghetto family to achieve success against overwhelming odds. A stunning chronicle of three generations of African-American women as they free themselves from welfare and poverty. Auditorium; 2pm

5 A keynote address by author E. Lynn Harris and a roundtable/panel discussion of such topics as Family Issues, Employment, Community Responsibility, Sex Education and Relationships. Centennial Hall; 6pm

6 Join us for "Café Newark-The NPL Juke Joint" for a live history of the blues featuring Cynthia Thomas and Eldrick Bashefull. Auditorium; 6pm

6 The Frances E.W. Harper Literary Society presents a "Black History Month" discussion by Lentworth Gunther, Ph.D. African-American Room; 6:30pm

7 A roundtable/panel discussion of "Hip Hop Fashion and Rap Music" featuring various hip hop dancers and recording artists. Centennial Hall; 6pm

9 A showing and discussion of Big Mama. This film chronicles an 89-year-old grandmother as she struggles to prove to the Los Angeles child welfare system that she can care for her 9-year-old grandson. Auditorium; 2pm

13 Professionals from CNB and Investment Corp. will discuss becoming financially stable for the future in a talk entitled "Putting Your Finances in Order." Auditorium; 6pm

14 The Library presents a tribute to Billie Holliday with a dual program: a book lecture and a musical. The lecture will be by David Margolick, author of Strange Fruit –Billie Holliday, Café Society, and An Early Cry for Civilrights. The musical, entitled Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, is part cabaret/part biography, in which Suzzanne Douglas plays legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday in this extraordinary performance featuring the songs that made her famous. Centennial Hall; 6pm

16 A showing and discussion of Out of Obscurity, which is one of the many little known, but nonetheless important, episodes in civil rights history. In the 1930s public facilities were segregated throughout the South. Blacks were banned from using the libraries. Recognizing the importance of public libraries as centers of information and a place where poor people could educate themselves, a handful of brave youths decided to challenge this ban. Auditorium; 2pm

16 Celebrate African-American history on stamps. The Ebony Society of Philatelic Events and Reflections will share an exciting display of African-American stamps past, present, and future. Free information and materials on stamp collecting will be distributed. Auditorium; 3:30pm

19 A program on "Health and Fitness." Speak one on one with health and fitness experts and dietitians to discuss what’s right for you. The program includes free blood pressure and body fat testing; also home cooking for health! Centennial Hall; 6pm

21 Enjoy music from the Motor City with "Black Tie." The sultry sounds of this musical group will lead you down memory lane with songs from popular Motown groups. Centennial Hall; 6pm

23 Join storyteller Julie Pasqual in this Hooray for Children program as she brings favorite stories and traditional folktales to life. Centennial Hall; 2pm

25 A "Teens Read Newark" program, featuring native Newarker Jackie Hardrick, in which local high school and college students come together to examine and discuss her novel, Imani in Young Love and Deception. Lunch will be provided for students. Centennial Hall; 10am

26 Join professional singers from Opera Ebony as they bring you the best of Negro Spirituals and African Folk music. Centennial Hall; 6pm

27 An evening of African-American poetry and spirituals with The Bobby Lewis Ensemble. Be sure to bring your poetry and writings to share. Centennial Hall; 6pm

28 A program of African folk songs, spirituals, gospel and opera presented by the trio New Renaissance. Centennial Hall; 6pm


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