2018 Black History Celebration – Newark Public Library

2018 Black History Celebration



Brick and Martyr is a multi-media exhibition featuring works by Akintola Hanif, a photojournalist who founded HYCIDE magazine in 2011. HYCIDE is an independent publication which presents stories of survival and freedom without judgment and challenges the status quo while bearing witness to the feared, neglected, and misunderstood. Hanif’s photography is also part of the permanent collections at the Newark Public Library, the New Jersey State Museum, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.


The exhibition pays homage to the residents of Newark, reviewing how class and identity constructs fuel stereotypes about poverty and people of color. The works document life in Newark and encourage a culture of compassion. Brick and Martyr forms an archive that provides an alternate narrative on how we persevered, both creatively and courageously.


Historically, the role of photography in the Black experience has been explored by icons such as Gordon Parks, Jamel Shabazz, Deborah Willis, Carrie Mae Weems, and countless others. Today, visual archives, like family photo albums, are tools that enable us to share stories and ideas about American citizenship and Black culture. One day, people will want to know: What biases and injustice did we face? How did we live? How did we survive? How did we value one another?


Exhibition on view from February 1 to April 30, 2018
2nd Floor Gallery, Main Library, 5 Washington Street, Newark

The exhibition will be open during regular Library hours, Monday through Saturday, with free admission.
For group visits, please contact 973-733-7793.

PNC Fdn logo

PNC Foundation is proud to support the Newark Public Library’s Black History Celebration exhibition and public programs.

For more information about the exhibit, please click here.

Public Programs

Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Lecture featuring Lecia Brooks

Saturday, January 20, 2018
2:00 – 4:30 pm
Centennial Hall, Main Library
5 Washington Street, Newark

Lecia Brooks

Lecia Brooks, educator and speaker on civil rights, social justice, and youth empowerment issues, will deliver the 2018 Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Lecture, titled “Nonviolent Peaceful Protest in the Tradition of Dr. King:  Still the Way to Counter Hate and Extremism.”

Lecia Brooks is the Director of Outreach for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in Montgomery, Alabama, a leading civil rights organization, where she works on key initiatives and social justice issues, and frequently gives presentations around the country to promote tolerance and diversity.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration will be hosted by Andrea McChristian, Esq., Associate Counsel for the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (NJISJ).

The program will also include musical performances by Kim Armstrong, vocalist, and Jenice Grice, violinist.


Opening Reception for Brick and Martyr, Works by Akintola Hanif, Photographer

Thursday, February 1, 2018
5:00 – 9:00 pm
Centennial Hall, Main Library
5 Washington Street, Newark

Akintola Hanif curates a multi-media exhibition of his own work documenting Newark over the past 10 years. The works focus on the beauty within the communities often overlooked in conventional conversations about the city. The exhibition will include large framed works, smaller encased prints, banners, a life-size cutout, stand up photographs and film.

Jasmine Mans cropped  DJ Sienna Chanel cropped

Special performance by poet Jasmine Mans (above left).
Music by DJ Sienna Chanel (above right).

Free parking will be available at the Essex County Parking Deck on Bridge Street, between McCarter Highway (NJ Route 21) and Broad Street.  Many thanks to Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo and the Essex County Improvement Authority for making free parking available.


Back in the Day: Newark Nightlife in the 70s, 80s, and 90s

Saturday, February 3, 2018
1:30 – 4:30 pm
Centennial Hall, Main Library
5 Washington Street, Newark

Doors open at 1:30 pm, and the DJ will be playing jazz and disco music from Newark’s nightlife.  Meet the speakers from 1:30 to 2:30 pm, then enjoy a fascinating panel discussion about Newark’s cultural and entertainment history. From the Cadillac Club, Sparky Js, the Key and Bridge Clubs, to Shanique’s, Le Joc’s, Executive Suite, Paradisio and Zanzibar — panelists will explore the history of Newark’s club heyday, share photographs, hear the music and reminisce.

Moderator: R&B Performer CeCe Rogers (above)

Julie Black 2 cropped    Angela Raine 2 cropped  Hippie Torrales cropped

Panelists: Promoter and Booking Manager Julie Black (above left), Last of the “Dancing Queens” Angela Raine (above center), Hall of Fame DJ and Producer Hippie Torrales (above right), and Nightclub Owner Ruben Johnson

We regret that that original moderator, Former DJ Billie Prest, will be unable to join us for this program.


#BlackLivesMatter-Newark 2018 and
Rodney Gilbert: Tribute to a Newark ‘Creative’

Saturday, February 10, 2018
12:30 – 4:30 pm
Centennial Hall, Main Library
5 Washington Street, Newark

Rodney Gilbert cropped

This special day begins at 12:30 with a tribute to the late Rodney Gilbert (above left), actor, director, teacher, and tireless promoter for a more creative community.

Mia X 2 cropped 2  A Way Out documentary

The tribute will feature poet Mia X (above left), who was mentored by Gilbert .  As part of the Gilbert tribute, the 2016 feature documentary A Way Out (above right) will be screened, starting at 1:00 pm.  Rodney Gilbert was one of three men of color profiled in the film by Gladys Bensimon.

BLM graphic

The #BlackLivesMatter movement was founded in 2013 by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi as a call to action after the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 at the hands of George Zimmerman who was subsequently acquitted of charges in 2013.

On February 10, the Newark Public Library’s 3rd Annual Black Lives Matter-Newark panel discussion will examine how we got here and the systemic challenges our families and communities consistently face. Panelists will provide action steps to help repair the damage and prepare for the future.

Lori Scott-Pickens 2 cropped

Moderator: Lori Scott-Pickens (above), Director, Community Outreach, School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University-Newark

Dr Robert Johnson    Demelza Baer(1)  Alfred Bundy

Panelists: Robert L. Johnson, MD, FAAP (above left), The Sharon and Joseph L. Muscarelle Endowed Dean, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Fatimah Loren Muhammad (above center left), Director Trauma Advocacy Initiative, Equal Justice USA; Demelza Baer (above center right), Senior Counsel and Director of the Economic Mobility Initiative at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, and Alfred Bundy (above right), Co-Founder, American Black Male Leadership Institute


After Work Dance Party

Friday, February 23, 2018
5:30 – 10:30 pm
Centennial Hall, Main Library
5 Washington Street, Newark

afterwork dance party

Put your dancing shoes on!  R&B, House and Disco music from the 70s, 80s & 90s featuring DJ Mr. Slim (Randall Taylor, seen below in photo by Jamil A.C. Mangan)

Free parking will be available at the Essex County Parking Deck on Bridge Street, between McCarter Highway (NJ Route 21) and Broad Street. All cars must exit the lot no later than 11:00 pm.  The lot will be locked from 11:00 pm Friday evening until Monday morning. Many thanks to Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo and the Essex County Improvement Authority for making free parking available.


Women’s History Month Celebration: Storms Weathered Performance

Saturday, March 10, 2018
2:00 – 4:30 pm
Main Library
5 Washington Street, Newark

Billie_Holiday_0001_original   Josephine Baker   Bessie_Smith_(1936)_by_Carl_Van_Vechten   Ethel_Waters

An original musical performance and fictional discussion between four of the most renowned women in blues and jazz history – Billie Holiday, Josephine Baker, Bessie Smith and Ethel Waters. Four women, four conversations, revealing and exploring their legacies, their successes, and their struggles, and the survival they all experienced.

Ife Basim and Omisanya Karade Masterpieces

Written by Ife Basim, and starring Patricia Walton as Billie Holiday, Phyliss Blanford as Josephine Baker, Omisanya Karade as Ethel Waters, and Ife Basim as Bessie Smith.


National Poetry and Jazz Appreciation Month Celebration

Saturday, April 21, 2018
2:30 – 4:30 pm
Centennial Hall, Main Library
5 Washington Street, Newark

Ubuntu Theory 2  Science Park High School Jazz Orchestra close up 2

Enjoy music and the spoken word. Hosted by Ubuntu Theory (seen above) and featuring young poets from the community and Science Park High School Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Mario McMiller.