It’s being branded by the Red Bank Public Library as “a dynamic series of discussions exploring race, cultural identity and class in the context of literary works,” and it’s presented under the title Let’s Talk About Race — the kind of call to action that often causes many otherwise well-intentioned souls to want to talk about anything else. But frank talk and community engagement have always been specialties of Gilda Rogers, whose old Frank Talk Art Bistro and Bookstore was the storefront setting for an expansive schedule of activities that ranged from personal appearances by famous writers, live jazz sets and civic debates, to pie-tastings, yoga classes, hair stylings, and invitations to share your favorite old record albums and dance.
Beginning this Wednesday evening, August 26 and continuing a once-monthly schedule through mid-November, Rogers serves as host, curator and moderator for a slate of free events in which “guest speakers and compelling mixed media will support the theme of these discussions” — offerings for which the author, activist, educator (Brookdale Community College, Red Bank Regional) and founder of Frank Talk Multimedia Network promises an open and honest dialogue.
Taking place between 7 and 8:30 pm in the library’s downstairs meeting room, Wednesday’s inaugural event welcomes guest speaker Sidney W. Bernstein. A Lincroft resident and founder of the organization known as Citizens for a Free, Open and Diverse Society, Bernstein is the author of America: A Country in Search of a New Dream, Repairing the Infrastructure of American Capitalism and The Concept of a One-World Economy (self-published in 2003 under the Advocates of America imprint).
Let’s Talk About Race returns on September 30 with a screening of Has the American dream been achieved at the expense of the American Negro?, a video documenting the 1963 “Great Debate” between African American author James Baldwin and conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr. Then on October 28, a pair of pivotal documentary films are compared and discussed in a program entitled From Wattstax to Boys of Baraka.
The series concludes on November 18 with an examination of Loving v. Virginia, the landmark 1967 Supreme Court ruling that blocked states’ ability to prohibit interracial marriage. All programs in the Let’s Talk About Race series are offered free of charge, with start times at 7 pm and registration required, by visiting the library’s Reference Desk or calling (732)842-0690 ext. 111.