rb equality 021014 2On the panel were longtime housing advocate Flo Apy, at left above; former borough Councilwoman Sharon Lee; and Monmouth University history professor Walter Greason. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

rb equality 021014 1Dozens of listeners turned out at the Bates Lodge in Red Bank Monday night for a panel discussion on the continuing struggle for racial equality in America.

With its mixed neighborhoods and ownership of businesses by African-Americans, “Red Bank in the 1950s was a hallmark of what was possible in terms of integration,” said Monmouth University history professor Walter Greason, one of three panelists.

But prejudice has not vanished, said Flo Apy, an 84-year-old borough resident who in the 1950s campaigned for fair housing laws for minority group members.

Though deed restrictions – once common in Red Bank and Fair Haven – that barred sales of real estate to Germans, Jews, Italians and blacks were found unconstitutional in 1948, hostility persists in the form of opposition to affordable housing mandates, she said.

“People think it’s all over, but it’s not,” said Apy. “It’s under a different name.”

The panel was the first in a series of discussions held in conjunction with the April production by the Two River Theater of ‘Trouble In Mind,’ by Alice Childress, the first African American woman to have a play professionally produced in New York City.