Press release from United Methodist Communities

Dressed in the tradition of her native Liberia, executive director Gertrude Kehleay (left in photo) greeted an intergenerational, multicultural group of about 100 people, gathered at United Methodist Communities at The Wesleyan for their annual Black History Celebration. All American citizens, they came together on the last day of February to celebrate the history and contributions of African Americans, as well as their ancestry representing nearly every continent around the globe.

Keynote speaker Rev. Darlene Wilson (right in photo) of the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Red Bank, recounted, “Although we dig down deep in February to discover Black History, it is every month…Black History is history.”

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Pro-immigrant protesters, above, outnumbered opponents outside borough hall both before and after Monday’s meeting. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


With rallies before and afterward heavily favoring the rights of undocumented residents, Red Bank’s Human Relations Committee voted Monday to oppose “any forced collaboration” between borough police and federal authorities when it comes to enforcing immigration law.

Short of declaring Red Bank a “sanctuary city,” the committee passed, by a 5-2 vote, a resolution that instead calls for town officials to “monitor and challenge” any costs arising from federal efforts to find and deport undocumented aliens.

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Pictured at the recent Buccaneer Unified Club Sports (BUCS) game in which both regular and special education, intellectually disabled students played together as teammates are (standing, left to right) Nick Arnone, Lauren Keale, Zoey Kallerher, Michael Eulner, Stephen Navitzky; (kneeling) Sarah Keale and Diana Santamaria Delgado.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

This past year, Red Bank Regional High School Athletic Director Del DalPra was able to secure a $3,500 grant from the Special Olympics Organization with the aim of becoming a Special Olympics Unified School.

RBR joins over 4,300 middle and high schools in the United States which have adopted this program, in which able-bodied kids play side by side with special education children who are intellectually disabled. According to the Unified Olympic website, “Unified Sports is also an integral part of the Special Olympics Unified Strategy for Schools, which was founded in 2008 and funded through the U.S. Department of Education to use Special Olympics as a way to build inclusion and tolerance in schools.”

The winter basketball program included eight special education students from the school’s “self-contained” program, and 18 regular education students. All were equal participants in the program and all had an equally great time playing a competitive basketball game every Tuesday night over the past two months. The name of the team, BUCS, is an appropriate acronym for Buccaneer Unified Club Sports.

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Pictured above left to right at Red Bank Regional’s Black History Month celebration are event emcee senior Corey Van Huff, Multi-cultural Club co-advisor Odilia Lligui, keynote speaker Lynese Rawlins, RBR Principal Risa Clay, and Multicultural Club co-advisor Karina Tedeschi. Below, RBR Dance majors presented their own original choregoraphy during the program.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

“Education is the key to life,” Lynese Rawlins told her audience at Red Bank Regional High School, as she addressed the student body during the school’s Black History Month observance on February 2.

A college student who recently graduated early from Montclair State University, and who plans to attend law school in the fall, the Class of 2013 RBR grad returned to her alma mater as keynote speaker for the special event.

A high-achieving student at RBR as president of her senior class, captain of the cheer-leading squad and recipient of the NJ Governor’s award in 2013, Lynese serves as a as a local role model and example of how hard work and determination breeds success.

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Press release from Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County

On the evening of Saturday, February 18, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County will be the setting for a special Voices of Black Experience presentation, under the theme “Inspiring Us to Resist the New Jim Crow.” A Black History Month followup to the February 3 screening of the film 13th, which examined the connection between the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution and the imprisonment of African Americans, the 5 p.m. event will feature a trio of guest speakers.

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Press release from Red Bank Humanists

Since 2005, the Red Bank Humanists have used the February edition of their monthly forum to celebrate International Darwin Day.  The goal of Darwin Day is to inspire people to reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth, as embodied in the life and work of Charles Darwin.

On the morning of Sunday, February 12, RBH will host the latest in its monthly series, hosted at the Red Bank Charter School, 58 Oakland Street. The program, going on from from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon, is open to the public and admission is free — and the theme for Darwin Day 2017 is “The Self-Domestication of Humans,” featuring guest speaker Ron Flannery (pictured).

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Press release from Rumson School District

Continuing a yearlong partnership between the Rumson School District and CHHANGE (the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights and Genocide Education center at Brookdale Community College), Forrestdale School provides its 7th and 8th grade students with several fantastic educational opportunities.

In January, Rumson art teachers Amy Lepping and Robin Yaeger attended a professional development opportunity that focused on fostering an artistic response from our students as they witness the world around them.  During their time at the Chhange center, the teachers were provided with a first-hand account from artist and Holocaust survivor Claire Boren, who has taken her experiences and created artistic representations in response to the events of her childhood.

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A sign installed by the Human Relations Committee in Veteran’s Park at Riverside Avenue and West Front Street in 2011. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi. Click to enlarge)


Even as President Donald Trump threatens to cut federal funding to so-called “sanctuary cities” across America, Red Bank may adopt the designation, redbankgreen has learned.

In response to requests by residents, the borough’s Human Relations Committee is expected to discuss the issue later this month, said Chairman David Pascale.

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Press release from Ranney School 

On January 25, the ongoing Distinguished Speaker Series at Ranney School gave students the opportunity to hear from writer, teacher, and Harvard doctoral candidate Clint Smith.

A 2014 National Poetry Slam champion, Mr. Smith (pictured) has focused  on the sociology of race and the history of inequality in the United States in his published works, the most recent being the poetry collection Counting Descent. His two TED Talks, “The Danger of Silence” and “How to Raise a Black Son in America,” have collectively been viewed more than 5 million times — and this past Wednesday he shared several of his poems, and the meaning behind them, with nearly 400 Upper School students and faculty on Ranney’s Tinton Falls campus.

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Spike WilnerThe “Earth Room” of Lincroft’s Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse is the setting this Sunday, for a free winter’s afternoon jazz concert featuring pianist Mike “Spike” Wilner.

Its “Earth Room” sanctuary has served for years as the greater Red Bank green’s go-to venue for guest lectures on progressive causes, in addition to regularly scheduled Social Action Film screenings of hot-topic documentaries — and, beginning in 2016, a slate of concert events that’s placed some internationally acclaimed modern folk music artists in front of Monmouth County audiences for the very first time.

This Sunday afternoon, January 29, Lincroft’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County becomes a jazz club, albeit one that trades the candlelit-cool night owl vibe for the streaming light of the stained glass windows and the afternoon delights of pianist Spike Wilner.

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Storyteller-StudentsStoryteller Len Cabral address students at Rumson Country Day School in January 17 assembly. In addition to learning about Dr. King, the students learned about their school’s history during a special Scavenger Hunt event on January 20.

Press release from Rumson Country Day School

On Tuesday, January 17, the students of Rumson Country Day School attended a special assembly to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A gifted orator, Dr. King used the power of words to inspire others and to achieve seemingly impossible goals. The overall theme of the assembly focused on the values that Dr. King’s legacy upholds, specifically kindness, which parallels the qualities of character that are the cornerstone of the RCDS experience.

The main event featured Len Cabral, an internationally acclaimed storyteller who has been enchanting audiences with his storytelling performances at schools,  libraries, museums and festivals since 1976.

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RBCS-MLK800pxPress release from Red Bank Charter School

Students at Red Bank Charter School took to the streets last Monday, January 16, carrying signs while marching through the community to mark the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. The exercise was part of a series of events held at the school on Martin Luther King Day, to teach students about the legacy of the slain civil rights leader.

The day began with teachers in every classroom handing out bagels to students, an exercise designed to create fellowship among students. Students also created a CNN-like news program in which they produced segments about the Dr. King, the Taliban, the Dakota Access Pipeline and the controversy over their own school.

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rb rally 012117 4Several hundred participants flowed into Riverside Gardens Park for the Greater Red Bank Women’s Initiative Rally Saturday.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


rb rally 012117 17One day after the start of a new administration in Washington, D.C., hundreds of protesters gathered in Red Bank’s Riverside Gardens Park to push back against its promised agenda.

But if the policies of newly inaugurated President Donald Trump were foremost on their minds, speaker after speaker at the event avoided mentioning him by name.

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riverside-gardens-park-0917162A gathering to reaffirm Red Bank’s “inclusiveness and tolerance” is planned at Riverside Gardens Park the day after the Trump inauguration. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[REPOSTING OF JANUARY 9 ARTICLE, with additional details about who’s speaking.]


HOT-TOPIC_03A group of Red Bank-area women have obtained an OK to hold an open-air rally for human rights and other concerns one day after the Trump inauguration.

The newly formed group, called the Greater Red Bank Women’s Initiative, won approval Monday from the borough government’s special events committee to hold a rally in Riverside Gardens Park on Saturday, January 21, according to Ellen Herman, one of the organizers.

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riverside-gardens-park-0917162A gathering to reaffirm Red Bank’s “inclusiveness and tolerance” is planned at Riverside Gardens Park the day after the Trump inauguration. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


HOT-TOPIC_03A group of Red Bank-area women have obtained an OK to hold an open-air rally for human rights and other concerns one day after the Trump inauguration.

The newly formed group, called the Greater Red Bank Women’s Initiative, won approval Monday from the borough government’s special events committee to hold a rally in Riverside Gardens Park on Saturday, January 21, according to Ellen Herman, one of the organizers.

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PILGRIM baptistSpecial guest speakers, music, prayer services, a walk and a talk with local law enforcement professionals are all on the agenda, during an extended Social Awareness Weekend keyed to Martin Luther King Day, and hosted by Pilgrim Baptist Church and Monmouth Reform Temple.

[See UPDATE below]

While the calendar of federal holidays marks just one official day to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — this coming Monday, January 16 — Red Bank’s Pilgrim Baptist Church believes that King’s work is too important, and still very relevant to our time, to be encapsulated within one 24 hour period. That’s why, beginning on Friday evening and following through the next three days, the Shrewsbury Avenue congregation sponsors a “Social Awareness Weekend” that carries forward a special collaboration with another long-established house of worship: Monmouth Reform Temple of Tinton Falls.

It’s a relationship that’s formed the foundation of a local tradition in recent years; one that continues for a third annual edition on January 13 with a Friday evening Shabbat service at MRT — a 7 p.m. all-welcome observance that features special guest speaker Diem Jones, executive director of Voices of Our Nations (VONA) Arts Foundation.

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richard-t-smithPress release from The Community YMCA

High school students who are currently participating in programs at The Community YMCA or the Western Monmouth County YMCA are invited to enter an essay contest honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The contest, which has an entry deadline of Thursday, January 5, will present its winning entries at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Breakfast on Monday, January 16.

Hosted at Branches Catering in West Long Branch, the 28th annual event co-sponsored by the Shrewsbury-based CYMCA will include readings by the two winning essayists, each of whom will be awarded a $500 scholarship sponsored by Investors Bank and Monmouth County Chiefs of Police Association. Richard T. Smith (pictured), President of the New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP, will be the keynote speaker at the breakfast, scheduled from 8 to 10 a.m.

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amy-ellis-nutt-julie-otsukaPulitzer winner Amy Ellis Nutt (above left), National Book Award finalist Julie Otsuka (right), and historical novelist James L. Haley (below) are among the celebrated wordsmiths appearing in the coming days at events in Shrewsbury, Fair Haven and Lincroft.

james-l-haleyThere’s a Pulitzer Prize winner who trained in the trenches of Jersey journalism. A novelist whose credits include a PEN/Faulkner Award and a National Book Award nomination. And a celebrated historian turned master purveyor of “ripping yarn” page-turners.

Apparently the Greater Red Bank Green hasn’t gotten the memo that books are dead, because the joy of reading, and the highly anticipated appearances of some high-profile authors, are alive and well in the coming days and nights.

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rbcs-dance-for-kindnessRed Bank Charter School Students are pictured with Terese Rolke (Group Leader), Colleen Shandrey (Teacher) and Kate Bronshteyn (Dance Instructor).

Press release from Red Bank Charter School

Life Vest Inside, a non-profit organization on a mission to empower and unite the world with kindness, is organizing its fifth annual World Wide “Dance for Kindness” event to take place on November 13, when local residents and schools will unite with over 100 locations spanning across 50 countries to promote kindness, compassion and empathy.

One of the schools participating in the Dance for Kindness is the Red Bank Charter School.  Ekaterina (Kate) Bronshteyn, a dance instructor at Little Silver Ballroom has been participating in the Dance for Kindness since 2014, and this year is one of the parents teaching RBCS students the dance during gym class.

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raed-abu-liel-hannah-rendellTwo representatives from the Jerusalem International YMCA, Raed Abu Leil and Hannah Rendell, visit the CYMCA in Red Bank on November 11 for a special free public discussion.

Press release from The Community YMCA

The current situation in the city of Jerusalem — and the important work of the Jerusalem International YMCA (JIY) towards conflict mitigation — will be the topic of a public-welcome discussion, hosted on Friday, November 11 at The Community YMCA  Family Health and Wellness Center in Red Bank.

Scheduled for 7 p.m. inside the facility’s gymnasium, the free presentation will feature two guest speakers with experience and expertise in fostering a better and more peaceful Jerusalem, and who are passionate about the importance of shared positive experiences between Israeli and Palestinian communities.

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sam-killermanAuthor, performer and internationally renowned internet celebrity Sam Killermann gave a well-received presentation on Gender Identity to the Red Bank Regional student body during the Week of Respect. 

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

In observance of the recent Week of Respect, Red Bank Regional High School partnered with to bring a special multi-disciplinary artist to RBR for a an engaging and insightful presentation on the topic of Gender Identity.

Samuel (Sam) Killermann is an author, performer and internationally renowned internet celebrity on matters of social justice. Students from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School’s Gay Straight Alliance, as well as the Collier School, were also invited to the presentation.

Mr. Killermann explained to his audience that his fascination with gender had personal roots which crystallized in college, when he learned that his prospective girlfriend assumed that he (a heterosexual male) was gay. This misperception of his sexual identity seemed to occur often in college; so he sought counsel at the college’s LGBTQ center. He was told that people were confusing his sexuality for the way he expressed his gender.

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duffy-gaunt-butler-fhSuzanne Duffy, Laraine Gaunt, and Suzanne Butler at the “It’s OK to Be Different” assembly, which helped kick off the “Week of Respect” at Sickles School in Fair Haven.

Press release from Fair Haven School District

At Viola L. Sickles School in Fair Haven, the subject of respect – like reading and writing — is taught all year long. During this year’s state-mandated Week of Respect, Sickles  students participated in meaningful activities designed to reinforce lessons about kindness and acceptance.

A kickoff event was held on Friday, September 30, and featured the “It’s OK to Be Different” assembly presented by the program’s creator and director Laraine Gaunt. An educator whose now-grown children once attended Sickles School, Gaunt introduced “It’s OK to Be Different” in 1978 to teach young children respect for all individuals and to promote understanding and tolerance.

“It’s OK to Be Different” is a year-long initiative at Sickles School and complements the tenets of the Responsive Classroom Philosophy already in place at all grade levels – “Be a Buddy, Not a Bully” (Pre-K and Kindergarten), “Understanding Disabilities” (First Grade), “Respect for Different Learners” (Second Grade), and “Celebrating Cultures”  (Third Grade).

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gilda rogers 072116Gilda Rogers returns as host when the Red Bank Public Library examines the borough’s historic T. Thomas Fortune House in a special edition of ‘Let’s Talk about Race.’

While the community-forum series that she’s moderated at Red Bank Public Library just observed its one-year anniversary, Gilda Rogers is scarcely the first Red Banker to issue the invitation “Let’s Talk About Race.” That distinction may go to T. Thomas Fortune (1856-1928), the onetime slave turned pioneer black editor-publisher and crusading journalist — and this Wednesday evening, September 28, Fortune’s former home (on what’s now Drs. James Parker Boulevard) is the focus of a special discussion on the man named Fortune, and the ongoing efforts to recognize and represent his life’s work to the community.

Regular readers of redbankgreen‘s paperless pages have no doubt followed the story of the T. Thomas Fortune House, the National Historic Site that has fallen into a serious state of disrepair in recent years — along with a newly floated proposal to rehabilitate the deteriorating structure as a public-welcome community center, and centerpiece of a residential apartment development. During Wednesday’s 7 p.m. presentation in the library’s downstairs meeting room, attendees will be brought up to speed on the details of the plan, and how such a resource can best honor the legacy of the activist who was credited as “being the bridge to the modern day Civil Rights Movement.”

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UUCMCNJPress release from UU Congregation of Monmouth County

On Sunday, September 25, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County will serve as the setting for a Black Lives Matter Community Rally, with all interested members of the public welcome to attend.

Scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. in front of the UUC Meetinghouse at 1475 West Front Street in Lincroft, the rally will feature the participation of guest speakers and representatives from churches and other organizations in the greater Red Bank area, as well as other Monmouth County communities.

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Gilda Rogers Sid Bernstein SummerSlamLeft to right: Citizens for a Diverse and Open Society founders Gilda Rogers and Sid Bernstein were joined by performing artist and writer Lorraine Stone as special guests of the Summer Slam program at Red Bank Regional High School. 

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

During the height of summer, the Red Bank Regional High School building is a busy place, with a myriad of educational programming designed to better prepare its students for September. As the largest of those activities, Summer Slam saw 110 students attending a four-week session (operated by school-based youth services program The SOURCE) which infuses academic topics (Math, English, Science, Global Studies) with special events like an athletic team-building challenge coordinated by The Community YMCA, as well as visits from influential community members.

This summer’s two-time guest speaker was educator, author and community activist Gilda Rogers of Red Bank, who during her first visit introduced the students to the ongoing project to renovate the historic T. Thomas Fortune House. She returned the next day to discuss ways students could combat racism; accompanying Gilda for that second meeting was Sid Bernstein of Lincroft, a retired businessman with whom she co-founded the group Citizens for a Diverse and Open Society (CDOS).

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