2024 Black History Celebration - Newark Public Library

2024 Black History Celebration

The James Brown African American Room is proud to present our 2024 Black History Celebration. This year’s theme, Create, Inspire, Elevate: African American Contributions to the Arts, reflects a rich and dynamic exploration of the profound impact the Black and African American communities have had on various forms of artistic expression. This theme not only pays homage to the historical significance of African American contributions but also highlights the ongoing and evolving influence within the arts and shines a special spotlight on Newark and New Jersey artists.

This year we have an exhibit and four programs that we hope will spark creativity, inspire, and elevate our community!

The exhibit

This year’s Black History Celebration exhibititon reflects the four areas of the arts being highlighted in our four programs throughout the month: Visual and Performing Arts, Literature, and Music. 
 
We hope to not only highlight artists you know and love, but elevate or introduce you to those whose work is worthy of elevating.
 
A very special thank you to Reggie Blanding, Amanda M. Klein, Charles Casseus, Dale E. Colston, Celeste A. Bateman, Blue Butterfly Arts & Media, Linda Gartrell Street, Alisha Grant, Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center, William Peniston, The Newark Museum of Art, and Christian Zabriskie, Director.
 

The programs

There will be free parking at each event at the Essex County Parking Deck, the entrance is located at 20 Bridge St. Newark, NJ 07102

Catered reception begins at 1PM.
Food by The Weekend Spot.

Join us for an engaging panel discussion as Newark artists delve into the life and inspiration of the renowned Jerry Gant. Linda Street, Noelle Lorraine Williams, Suliman Onque, and Pierre Coleman, who will also be screening “The Gantalist,” will share their insights into Jerry Gant’s impactful work. The conversation will extend beyond Gant’s art to explore the support and challenges faced by Newark artists. Jamara Wakefield will guide this enlightening discussion as the moderator.

Learn more about the panelists:

Linda Street

Instagram @pinkdragonmgt

 Website: pinkdragonartistsyndicate.com

Linda Street (she/her) has built her brand on bringing art to the people, combining skills from her decades-long career in corporate management with an artist’s imagination and love of cultural storytelling. Through her brainchild, Pink Dragon Artist Syndicate LLC, Street orchestrates mergers between art and community, artist and audience, and the public and private stakeholders so vital to ensuring that art has reach and permanence. Read more

Noelle Lorraine Williams

Instagram @blackpower_19thcentury

 Website: blackpower19thcentury

Noelle Lorraine Williams is an artist, historian and public humanities professional. Read more

Suliman Onque

Instagram: @slimsuliart_world

Website: www.3theartway.com

Suliman Onque began creating art in preschool and it was at this young age, that his ingenious talents were born. Some of Suliman’s works include Art exhibits with greats such as Willie Cole, Kortez Robinson, Jose Emanuel Cruz, Kween Moore and Jerry Gant. Being commissioned on various mural projects for the City of Newark. Read more

Pierre Coleman

Instagram: @pierremcoleman

Website: pierremcoleman.com

A native of Newark, NJ, Pierre attended Howard University’s School of Communications, earning his degree in Film Production. He is the founder of Solid Brick Entertainment, a company that prides itself in producing compelling stories and creating innovative projects. Pierre worked on the critically acclaimed HBO series “The Wire” and his exensive production experience led him to work on films starring Queen Latifah, Will Smith,Cameron Diaz, Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Aniston, Tina Fey, Steve Carrell and Taraji P.Henson. Read more

Moderator

Jamara Wakefield

Instagram @jamaraproducer

Twitter @jamaraproducer

Jamara Wakefield, 2024 New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship Award winner, is a Black queer writer and creative who writes for publication and stage. She is the Digital Content Producer at WBGO. Wakefield is the author of The Black Student’s Guide to College Resistance Volume 1: Student Loan Debt. It is a manual that addresses the colonial history of the American Higher Education system and proposes resistance strategies for students regarding debt and institutional power. Her performance work is cross genre, combining music, poetry, theater, music and improvisation to create public performance. Read more

Catered reception begins at 5PM.

On February 8, 2024, be part of a captivating film program that explores the transition from stage to screen. Distinguished panelists Anthony Goss, Richard Wesley, Celeste Bateman, and Nefertiti Nguvu will discuss the dynamic world of performing arts, with a focus on Newark’s scene and its connection to Amiri Baraka. With backgrounds ranging from writing to curation and from behind the camera to in front of it, this diverse panel will be moderated by Pamela Morgan.

Learn more about the panelists:

Anthony Goss

Instagram: @antgoss

Website: antgoss.com

Anthony T Goss is an Award winning actor and emerging playwright from Boston, Ma, based in New York City.  His first passion was basketball and he never dreamed acting would take him all over the world. But ever since he discovered theatre; acting and writing have become his life’s work. Read more

Celeste Bateman

Website: celestebateman.com

Celeste Bateman started her company, Celeste Bateman & Associates, LLC in 1997. The firm specializes in arts and cultural programming, arts management consulting, special events production, arts advocacy and (previously) the Nia Network, a roster of artists and speakers of African descent who specialize in and present art forms relative to the African Diaspora. Read more

Richard Wesley

Richard Wesley was born in Newark, New Jersey and graduated from Howard University. He studied Playwriting under the tutelage of Owen Dodson and Ted Shine. A member of the New Lafayette Theater from 1970 through 1973, he served as Managing Editor of its Black Theater magazine. Read more

Nefertiti Nguvu

Instagram: @hollywdafricans

Website: hollywoodafricans.com

Nefertite is a New York based independent filmmaker who recently made her foray into episodic television directing. Her credits include Hulu’s EMMY® NOMINATED dramatic series Wu-Tang: An American Saga, the Starz original drama series Power Book II: Ghost, Showtime’s original comedy series Flatbush Misdemeanors, and 20th Television’s Peabody Award winning reboot of The Wonder Years, amongst others. Read more

Moderator

Pamela Morgan

Instagram @wimnewark

Website: wim-n.com

Pamela Morgan is Executive Director of Women in Media-Newark and a board member of WBGO.

Catered reception begins at 5PM.

Mark your calendars for February 15, 2024, as we celebrate the literary contributions of Maisy Card, Kim Coleman Foote, and Valerie Wilson Wesley. Join the conversation led by moderator Naomi Extra, where these four writers will share their experiences navigating the freedom and potential hurdles in their writing careers. Discover the profound impact of personal stories, environments, and life experiences on their work.

Learn more about the panelists:

Maisy Card

Website: maisycard.com

Maisy Card is the author of the novel These Ghosts Are Family, which won an American Book Award, the  2021 OCM Bocas Prize in fiction and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and the LA Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. Read more

Kim Coleman Foote

Website: kimfoote.com

Kim Coleman Foote is the author of the novel, Coleman Hill (SJP Lit/Zando), inspired by her family’s experience of the Great Migration from Alabama and Florida to Vauxhall, New Jersey, c. 1916–80s.

An award-winning writer of fiction and memoir, Kim’s work has appeared most recently in The Best American Short Stories 2022, Iron Horse Literary Review, Ecotone, and The Rumpus. Read more

Valerie Wilson Wesley

Website: valeriewilsonwesley.com

Valerie Wilson Wesley writes mysteries, novels, and children’s books. Her latest mystery A Glimmer or Death–An Odessa Jones Mystery will be published in February 2021. She is the author of nine Tamara Hayle Mysteries, which include When Death Comes Stealing and Dying in the Dark. Most of her mysteries have been Blackboard Bestsellers. She has also written paranormal romances under the pen name Savanna Welles. Read more

Moderator

Naomi Extra

Website: naomiextra.com

Naomi Extra is a poet, writer, cartoonist, and scholar. She received her PhD in American Studies from Rutgers University, Newark. In both her creative and scholarly work, she explores the themes of agency and pleasure in the lives of black women and girls. Her current research focuses on black feminist engagement with sex-positivity through the work of three under-explored writers of the 1970s and 80s. Read more

Catered reception begins at 5PM.

Closing our Black History Celebration on February 29, 2024, is an exhilarating discussion, moderated by Jamara Wakefield, on the legacy of hip hop beyond its 50th year. Join historian Dan Charnas, Lyle Omolayo, Sah-B, and El Da Sensei as they delve into the rich history and current scene of hip hop in New Jersey.

Don’t miss out on this thought-provoking panel discussion that will illuminate the profound contributions of African Americans to the arts.This program will be catered by The Yard

Learn more about the panelists:

Dan Charnas

Instagram: @dcharnas

Website: dancharnas.com

Dan Charnas is a bestselling author, award-winning music and business journalist, producer of records and television, and professor. Recipient of both a PEN Literary Award and a Pulitzer Fellowship for Arts Journalism, he is the author of four books; was the co-creator and executive producer of the VH1 TV series The Breaks; and is an Associate Arts Professor at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University. Read more

Lyle Omolayo

Instagram: @lyleomolayo

Website: lyleomolayo.com

Lyle Omolayo has rocked over 500+ stages within the United States and internationally. He has opened up for many legends, pioneers and unsung heroes of music such as Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaata, Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious Five, Naughty By Nature, Immortal Technique and many more. Read more

El Da Sensei

Instagram: @el_da_sensei

Website: catharsis-productions.com

El Da Sensei stepped onto the hip-hop scene as one half of the Newark, NJ, duo, the Artifacts. The Artifacts first rose to fame with the hit “Wrong Side of the Tracks.” After El Da Sensei and his partner Tame-One where invited to the Stretch and Bobbito show at WKCR in New York, the group was signed to Big Beat/Atlantic Records. Read more

Sah- B

Instagram: @sahbeezy

Website: www.sah-b.com

Sah-B, derived from her middle name, Sakinah and maiden name Britton was born in  Newark, NJ but raised in East Orange and was heavily Influenced by Roxanne Shante , Salt -n-Pepa, and  Sparky D .  So much so that she began  writing rhymes at the tender age of  11.  At the age of 14, she joined Sport D’s rap crew, the Revolutionary Posse of Terrace, which included DoitAll Du, from the Lords of the Underground  and Redman. Read more

Moderator

Jamara Wakefield

Instagram: @jamaraproducer

Twitter: @jamaraproducer

Jamara Wakefield, 2024 New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship Award winner, is a Black queer writer and creative who writes for publication and stage. She is the Digital Content Producer at WBGO. Wakefield is the author of The Black Student’s Guide to College Resistance Volume 1: Student Loan Debt. It is a manual that addresses the colonial history of the American Higher Education system and proposes resistance strategies for students regarding debt and institutional power. Her performance work is cross genre, combining music, poetry, theater, music and improvisation to create public performance. Read more

Happy Black History Month!

– JBAAR Staff

The origins of Black History Month

The origins of Black History Month in the United States can be traced back to the early 20th century, to the pioneering efforts of historian Carter G. Woodson and his collaborators. Recognizing the need for a dedicated platform to highlight the contributions of Black individuals to American history, Woodson and fellow advocates campaigned for an annual week focused on the celebration of Black history. February was deliberately chosen for this observance due to its alignment with two historically significant dates: the birthdays of Frederick Douglass, a prominent abolitionist and civil rights advocate, and U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.

Black History Month had a grassroots beginning, it started to gain national attention by the mid-20th century. The federal government officially recognized and designated February as African American History Month in 1976. Since then, U.S. presidents have consistently affirmed this recognition through annual pronouncements, solidifying Black History Month as a pivotal occasion for acknowledging, appreciating, and commemorating the profound impact of Black individuals on the nation’s history and culture.

Learn more about Black History Month

Browse the links below for more Black History Month content and resources from institutions like the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration and more.

history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-month

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History 

The National Museum of African American History and Culture

Library of Congress

Britannica

JBAAR Black History Month Staff Picks of content & resources for teachers, home schoolers, and lifelong learners!

Primary sources, ready to use lesson plans, student activities, collection guides and research aids curated by blackhistorymonth.gov

51 episodes of an engaging illustrated podcast about Black American History featuring writer and poet Clint Smith

Gather the kiddos and watch the queen Angela Basset read the childrens book Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews and illustrated by Bryan Collier.

Award-winning graphic designer  George McCalman’s Illustrated Black History celebrates African Americans and their contributions to politics, science, literature, music, and other fields through stunning illustrations. 

Starting in a post-MLK assignation world explore the rising call for Black Power, redefining American culture, politics, and society in this PBS series with Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Using the life stories of five major American intellectuals: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W. E. B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis Ibram X. Kendi explores how racist ideas were created to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation’s racial inequities

Starting in a post-MLK assignation world explore the rising call for Black Power, redefining American culture, politics, and society in this PBS series with Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Explore materials documenting the African American experience including documents, online exhibits, blogs, educational resources, video resources, and more from the National Archives of African American History.

Interested in more? Check out JBAAR Online!

JBAAR ONLINE is our new hub for connecting you to NPL’s digital resources! Audiobooks, eBooks, movies, music, online classes, and more all FREE with your Newark Public Library card!