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).

Read More »


mumford fortune 072716 1Developer Roger Mumford leads high school journalism students on a tour of the Fortune House. Below, Mumford with preservationist Gilda Rogers. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)


gilda rogers roger mumford 072716

Less than a week after the Red Bank zoning board approved a plan to save it, the still-crumbling T. Thomas Fortune House offered a preview Wednesday of its anticipated role: as a cultural and educational center.

About a dozen high school students from around New Jersey took an exterior tour of the onetime home of pioneering civil rights journalist, who lived in it for a decade starting in 1901 and entertained the leading lights of black culture there. In the process, they also got a lesson in how the interests of preservationists and profit-minded developers might converge.

Read More »


ROGER MUMFORD 072116 1Developer Roger Mumford with an architect’s rendering of the T. Thomas Fortune house as it would appear after restoration. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)



A decade-long effort to save an endangered artifact of African-American history cleared a major milestone Thursday night when the Red Bank zoning board approved a developer’s plan to rebuild the T. Thomas Fortune house and create 31 apartments on its one-acre property.

Borough-based homebuilder Roger Mumford, who vowed to restore and donate the house for use as a cultural center before he would seek certificates of occupancy for the apartments, was hailed as the last-chance savior of a vital relic of the civil rights movement that its current owners want to raze. Residents told the board before its vote that Mumford deserved the tradeoff of more than a dozen variances, most of them arising from the apartment plan.

“If a development project has ever given back to the community, it’s this one,” said Kalman Pipo, a member of the borough’s Historic Preservation Commission. “If this project doesn’t go through, we are going to lose this house” to the wrecking ball, he said.

Read More »


rb fortune house 100614 3Fortune future 062816Developer Roger Mumford‘s plan to save the dilapidated T. Thomas Fortune house on Drs. James Parker Boulevard in Red Bank faces its first test this week.

The proposal, which is backed by a volunteer group hoping to preserve the pioneering civil rights journalist’s home, calls for restoring the National Historic Register structure for use as a cultural center devoted to preserving African American history and serving as a resource for social justice initiatives. The plan, dubbed “Fortune Square,” also includes a 32-unit apartment building proposed for the rear of the property. Multiple variances are required.

The hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at borough hall, 90 Monmouth Street. Here’s the agenda: RBZB agenda 072116 (Click to enlarge)



Fortune future 062816The home of pioneering human rights journalist T. Thomas Fortune would be restored for use as a cultural center, as shown in the architectural rendering above. Below, four views of the four-story, 32-unit apartment building proposed for the rear of the property.  (Click to enlarge)


fortune square apartments 062816After years of efforts by volunteer historians to halt decades of decay, an historic Red Bank residence may be spared the wrecking ball.

Developer Roger Mumford has proposed restoring what he calls the “highly deteriorated” T. Thomas Fortune house on Drs. James Parker Boulevard and turning it into a cultural center.

Mumford’s plan comes with a catch: he wants the town to grant him a host of variances to construct 32 apartments on the site — more than twice the density allowed by zoning law. But he’s billing it as a win for all involved.

Read More »


Interfaith Prayer BreakfastOn May 18, Brookdale Community College was the setting as Red Bank’s Pilgrim Baptist Church and its community partners hosted the Inaugural Shore Region Interfaith Prayer Breakfast, celebrating the rich ethnic, cultural and religious community of the shore region. The event featured music, inspirational messages and prayers from corporate and community leaders, and presented the Community Trailblazer Award to Garden State MOSAIC for its work promoting religious understanding among youth through cross-cultural groups. For further information about the breakfast or the Community Wellness Initiatives of Pilgrim Baptist Church, call (732)757-2257.


Facing racism BCCThe Center for Holocaust, Human Rights and Genocide Education (Chhange) at Brookdale Community College will host a public reception for its new “Facing Racism” exhibit on April 10 in Lincroft. (Photo by Brookdale Community College) 

Press release from Brookdale Community College 

On Sunday, April 10, The Center for Holocaust, Human Rights and Genocide Education (Chhange) at Brookdale Community College will host an opening reception for its new art exhibit, presented under the theme “Facing Racism.” art exhibit on Sunday, April 10 from 12 to 2:30 in Lincroft.

Scheduled from 12 to 2:30 p.m. in BCC’s Bankier Library, the event highlights an exhibit composed of more than 200 interpretive “faces,” created by students from 19 area elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and special needs schools over the last two months.

Read More »


Press release from Fair Haven Girl Up Club

On Saturday, May 7, the Fair Haven Girl Up Club is hosting a glamorous Hollywood-themed Father-Daughter Fundraiser Dance for girls and dads of all ages in Monmouth County. Hosted from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Red Bank Elks Lodge (40 West Front Street), the event starts with a half-hour meet and greet “mocktail” hour outside (weather permitting) on the Navesink River waterfront. A fully catered buffet dinner will be served around 8:30 p.m., and the evening will also include fabulous raffle prizes.

The Girl Up initiative is an adolescent United Nations Jr. Foundation campaign where girls stand up for girls in need; empowering girls around the world to strive for education and transform their world. Girl Up Clubs like the one in Fair Haven volunteer their time and resources to try and help girls in places that pose daily difficulties in just being born a girl.

Read More »


Joan BaezAn evergreen returns to the Greater Green as folk music legend Joan Baez takes the stage of the Count Basie Theatre for a Tuesday night concert.

She was there, on the scene, at so many of the pivotal moments in the cultural and sociopolitical history of modern America, from the 1959 Newport Folk Festival; her 1963 introduction of Bob Dylan; and appearance at Woodstock; marches with Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez. She’s stood alongside South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and the Czech Republic’s Vaclav Havel in their journeys from political prisoners to presidents of their nations; lent crucial early support to Amnesty International, dated Steve Jobs, and protested war in all its manifestations.

Far from being a sort of Forrest Gump accidental bystander, or just another celeb looking to piggyback on the cause du jour, Joan Baez has maintained her post on the frontlines of social justice since the era of Elvis and doo wop. And when the 75-year-old singer-songwriter-guitarist returns to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre Tuesday night, she’ll stand among the many legends of music, theater, film and broadcasting who have graced the stage of the venerable venue.

Read More »


Keshia ThomasPress release from Monmouth Reform Temple

In an announcement earlier this week, Monmouth Reform Temple announced that social activist and motivational speaker Keshia Thomas will be the special guest speaker at the Shabbat evening service on Friday, March 11. During the service that begins at 7 p.m., Ms. Thomas will speak on the topic of “The Power of One.”

Keshia Thomas gained national prominence as a teenager in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  In 1996, in an incident pictured here, she threw herself on a white man to protect him from the beatings of an angry mob who believed he was a supporter of the Ku Klux Klan. A high school student at the time, she chose to become a human shield for a man she did not know. That moment propelled her on a path of social justice that reverberates through her to this day.  Last summer, she participated in America’s March for Justice, walking the entire 1000 mile path from Selma, AL, to Washington, DC.

Read More »


Jazmin GrahamThe Red Bank Regional VPA orchestra accompanied Jazmin Graham as she sang the Nora Jones ballad “Don’t Know Why,” during the annual Black History Month program at the school.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Every February, Red Bank Regional High School celebrates Black History Month with a heartwarming program for its student body. Sponsored by the school’s Multi-cultural Club and History Club, the event spotlights the talents of RBR Visual and Performing Arts Academy students in highlighting the timeless contributions of African Americans to American society.

At the 2016 event held last week in the RBR auditorium, Principal Risa Clay greeted her students by explaining the reason we celebrate this month, stating that “it is imperative that Americans learn the complete history of the United States. All students should study and celebrate the history of all people. It is by knowing and learning about others that we continue to grow and learn from each another and better understand each other.”

Read More »


bernard-lafayette_JPEGNoted civil rights activist the Rev. Dr. Bernard Lafayette Jr. will give a free talk at Brookdale Community College on February 23. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Bernard Lafayette Jr.)

Press release from Brookdale Community College

On the morning of Tuesday, February 23, noted activist and author the Rev. Dr. Bernard Lafayette Jr. will meet with local students and discuss his experience as a core leader of the 1960’s civil rights movement, during a free talk at Brookdale Community College.

Lafayette’s talk, scheduled for 11:30 am and titled “Your Life: A Celebration of Peace and Social Justice Yesterday and Today,” is open to all members of the public. It will be held in the Student Life Center building on the BCC campus.

Read More »


Press release from The Arc of Monmouth

Linda Mayo ArcOfMonmouthIn an announcement earlier this week, The Arc of Monmouth named Linda Mayo, MSW, MS as its new executive director, following the recent retirement of Mary E. Scott. Mayo was selected by a search committee consisting of five board members and one served individual of The Arc of Monmouth, the borough-based nonprofit support organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Linda brings over two decades of leadership and experience in non-profits to The Arc, with all the necessary skills and vision to build on the fine legacy of Mary Scott and move the organization forward,” said Board President Joyce Quarles.

Read More »


MLK PrinzA free screening of a documentary on Rabbi Joachim Prinz (left, with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) is among the events scheduled during a weekend-long MLK Day observance, presented jointly by Monmouth Reform Temple (Tinton Falls) and Pilgrim Baptist Church (Red Bank).

Press release from Monmouth Reform Temple

Continuing a recently established tradition, Monmouth Reform Temple of Tinton Falls and Pilgrim Baptist Church of Red Bank join forces for a weekend-long slate of activities honoring the memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The observance begins on Friday night, January 15 with MRT Shabbat services at 7 pm, featuring special guest Dr. Everett McCorvey, chair of the Opera Department at the University of Kentucky and Director of the National Chorale. Dr. McCorvey grew up in segregated Montgomery, AL alongside Dr. King’s children, and has risen to national prominence as a soloist, conductor, and educator.

The weekend will culminate with a noon MLK service at Pilgrim Baptist Church led by Pastor Terrence Porter on Monday, January 17 at noon. Rabbi Mark Kline and Cantor Gabrielle Clissold of MRT will participate in the service, along with a joint performance by the PBC and MRT choirs. All events are free and open to the public.

Read More »


Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

sethrainessThe staff of Red Bank Regional High School recently invited author, educator and advocate Seth Rainess to speak on the topic of supporting students who self-identify as Transgender or Gender Non-conforming. As the Trans-family Group Facilitator with the Jersey Shore PFLAG (Parents and Families of Lesbians & Gays) organization, Rainess is uniquely qualified to discuss this subject from both his professional and educational background (with masters’ degrees in Psychology and Rehabilitation Counseling), as well as through his own personal journey with transitioning.

Rainess, who has addressed a number of schools in Monmouth County, also spoke with the RBR Gay-Straight Alliance, the student organization advised by Stacy Liss, clinical supervisor for RBR’s School Based Youth Service program The Source. Several students received copies of Real Talk for Teens: a Jump-Start Guide to Gender Transitioning and Beyond, the Rainess-authored book that was written to help youth and families address transitioning, which is the process that transgender people may go through to align their body with their gender identity.

Read More »


GildaKeynotespeakerOn Wednesday, December 9, the League of Women Voters of Greater Red Bank will present an interactive discussion about race relations in America today, with special guest panelist Gilda Rogers (pictured), co-founder of Citizens for a Free and Open Diverse Society. Scheduled for 7 pm at the Monmouth County Library on Route 35 in Shrewsbury, the all-welcome panel looks at racially based discrepancies on how the media describes events, and examines how our feelings, experiences and unconscious reactions affect how we relate to others. Contact madelyngail@gmail.com or call (732)895-3866 for additional information.


MulticulturalstudetnsStudents and staff who produced and performed in the Hispanic Heritage program at Red Bank Regional High School included, back row, left to right:  Guadalupe Rodriguez, Brandon Trani, Guadalupe Luna, Mizani DelValle, Mya Nunnally, Multi Cultural Club Co- Advisor Odilia Lligui. Front row, left to right:  RBR Principal Risa Clay, Tyler Brunson, Emily Lugos, Skyler (Kyle) Eber, Yaritza Ortega. Not pictured is Multi-Cultural Club Advisor Karina Tedeschi.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Every October, the Red Bank Regional High School community looks forward to its multi-cultural club’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage. The school recognizes the many countries that compose the Hispanic American experience for both their uniqueness and rich culture, which is also commemorated with performances by the school’s Visual and Performing Arts students.

This year, RBR senior Guadalupe Luna introduced the event in Spanish (translated into English by Principal Risa Clay), stating, “Most Hispanic and Latinos share one significant item, a common passion for food.  To us food represents more than a simple dish. It represents family, sharing and love.”

Read More »


FH week 2Laraine Gaunt holds up the letter “R” for respect while addressing Sickles School students, as Principal Cheryl Cuddihy looks on.

Press release from Fair Haven School District

During the week of october 5 through 9, Fair Haven schools marked a state-mandated “Week of Respect” with meaningful activities and new initiatives designed to encourage kindness and acceptance.

Sickles School welcomed Laraine Gaunt on Monday for an official kickoff of the new yearlong campaign, “It’s OK 2B Different.” Gaunt, an educator whose grown children had attended Sickles School, helped to create the program. She spoke to students in Pre-Kindergarten through third grade classes about the importance of respect.

“Treat others the way you want to be treated,” Gaunt told the students. “Be a buddy, not a bully, and you will soon learn everything it takes to be a good friend.”

“It’s OK 2B Different” is based on the premise that teaching young children respect for individuals (even the bully) will promote understanding and tolerance before bias, hate, and prejudice can occur. “The color of love is always the same in the eyes of a child …” is the philosophy behind the program, which received its official start at Sickles School in 1978, when it was written and introduced by the school’s administration, teachers, and parents.

Read More »


Kristof-WuDunnPulitzer-winning journalists (and matrimonial partners) Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn visit Brookdale Community College on Wednesday, for a discussion keyed to their latest book (and affiliated PBS documentary), A PATH APPEARS.

They’re most immediately famous as the first husband-and-wife partnership to jointly win the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism; a pair whose achievements in the realms of reporting, media management and business can fill a book — and whose own co-authored books include China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power; Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia; and Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

Here in 2015, the team of Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn is back on the bookshelves, with the (just out in paperback) nonfiction study A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity; an affiliated PBS documentary series of the same name, and an itinerary of personal appearances that takes them to the Lincroft campus of Brookdale Community College on Wednesday evening, September 30.

Read More »


rb fortune house 100614 1The home of pioneering human rights journalist T. Thomas Fortune has been vacant for many years. Below, an undated photo of Fortune, who owned it from 1901 to 1911.  (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


T. Thomas FortuneThe state of New Jersey has thrown its support behind efforts to save a historic Red Bank structure by offering to acquire it, redbankgreen has learned.

Two members of the borough Historic Preservation Committee said the state Department of Environmental Protection, though its Green Acres program, has made a purchase offer to the owners of the crumbling T. Thomas Fortune house on Drs. James Parker Boulevard.

Read More »


Gilda RBPLGilda Rogers is your host, as Red Bank Library presents the first in a series of free presentations entitled LET’S TALK ABOUT RACE.

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.
Read More »


Press release from Brookdale Community College

In response to the recent tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina, the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights and Genocide Education (Chhange) at Brookdale Community College will host a special community progarm about racism and bias, on the evening of Wednesday, July 22.

Scheduled for 7 pm on the college’s Lincroft campus, “Unmasking Racism: Moving Forward Together” will feature an open discussion hosted by Detective David D’Amico, who has investigated bias crimes with the Office of the Monmouth County Prosecutor for more than 13 years.

A certified cultural diversity trainer and a commissioner with the Monmouth County Human Relations Commission, D’Amico will discuss the local and national impacts of racism and bias. Residents of all ages are invited to join D’Amico and Chhange in an effort to combat racism and suggest potential solutions the nation’s recent conflicts.

Read More »


rb fortune house 2 061213Timothy_Thomas_FortuneSunday’s edition of the New York Times includes an article on the divergent fates of two historic New Jersey homes, one of them the Red Bank abode of early 20th-century civil rights journalist T. Thomas Fortune.

Fortune’s house, on Dr. James Parker Boulevard, is the subject of an effort by the nonprofit T. Thomas Fortune Project to save it from demolition and turn it into a cultural center. At right, an undated photo of Fortune.  (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)




rbccspringconcertposter2015Red Bank Regional music teacher Kristopher Zook conducts a multi-generational assembly of voices in the world premiere of his original work VOICES OF CHANGE, Thursday at RBR. 

It’s an ambitious work that represents the human journey in song; one that draws from the words of poets, philosophers and public figures from Confucius, Ben Franklin and Winston Churchill, to Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama. It’s Voices of Change, an original oratorio composed by Red Bank area music educator Kristopher L. Zook — and it will be heard by a public audience for the first time this Thursday, May 21.

A presentation of the Visual and Performing Arts Academy at Red Bank Regional High School, the oratorio will be conducted by RBR faculty member Zook during the world premiere concert at the school auditorium. For the 7 pm event, the composer will be joined by a chamber orchestra, an allstar assembly of high school choirs and festival choirs, and special guest soloists from Kean University and NYC’s Metropolitan Opera.

Read More »