RED BANK: FORTUNE TO HONOR PARKERS

Fortune Center Executive Director Gilda Rogers in the newly designated Parker Family Legacy Room. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

A new, permanent exhibit opening this month at the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center in Red Bank pays tribute to three African-American men of medicine who played vital roles in the community.

The unveiling also marks another milestone for the three-year-old center, housed in the onetime home of an influential journalist and civil rights advocate.

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RED BANK: CHARTER SCHOOL WINS EXTENSION

The school’s campus includes buildings on Oakland Street, above, and Monmouth Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

See UPDATE below

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The Red Bank Charter School has won state authorization to operate for another five years, Head of School Kristen Martello announced Wednesday.

The widely expected extension was granted by the New Jersey Department of Education over the objection of borough school district’s board, which was joined by the town council in its request that the school be closed.

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RED BANK: FORTUNE TO HOST VIEWING PARTY

Press release by the the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center

On January 24, 2022, HBO Max will start streaming a new series,“The Gilded
Age.” The show will feature the character of T. Thomas Fortune, played by actor Sullivan Jones.

It takes place in New York in 1882 during the American Gilded Age, a time of economic change and conflict between the old world and the new world.

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RED BANK: RUMAGE TEES UP CHARTER FIGHT

JARED RUMAGE, red bankSuperintendent Jared Rumage at the borough middle school in May, 2019. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank schools Superintendent Jared Rumage called on the borough council Wednesday to aid the district in a bid to shut down the Red Bank Charter School, whose authority to operate is up for renewal.

In a direct challenge that echoed rhetoric from a bitter battle leading up to the school’s charter renewal in 2017, Rumage called for a “unified” borough educational system and the elimination of an institution that he said has fostered segregation for its entire 23-year existence.

“It’s a travesty that we have tolerated school segregation for so long in Red Bank,” Rumage told the council via Zoom during its workshop session.

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RED BANK: FORTUNE TO HOST PARKER ROOM

Press release by the the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center

On the heels of Juneteenth, the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center announces its partnership with Monmouth Medical Center, a part of RWJ Barnabas Health, as the exclusive sponsor of the Parker Family Legacy Room – a permanent exhibit of the history of the family of prominent Red Bank black doctors, who served their community for over 80 years.

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RED BANK: MARCH INAUGURATES JUNETEENTH

Juneteenth marchers on Shrewsbury Avenue, above, and Drs. James Parker Boulevard, below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bankers commemorated the new federal and New Jersey state holiday of Juneteenth with a march Saturday.

The hike on a humid last day of spring was bookended by gatherings at Pilgrim Baptist Church on Shrewsbury Avenue and the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center on Drs. James Parker Boulevard.

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RED BANK: FORTUNE SETS ‘BASIE 2020’ SKED

william count basie postersImages of William ‘Count’ Basie on display at the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center last week. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

The T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center, built to honor a pioneering African-American journalist with Red Bank ties, plans to spotlight the borough-born musical giant William ‘Count’ Basie through 2020.

The occasion is the 85th anniversary of the formation of the Count Basie Orchestra, which is still touring 36 years after its founder’s death.

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RED BANK: FORTUNE CULTURAL CENTER OPENS

red bank fortune house Dozens of supporters gathered on the front lawn for the opening of the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center. Below, a view of the ceremony from inside the restored house. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

red bank fortune houseMore than a century after the departure of its most famous resident, the T. Thomas Fortune House in Red Bank reopened Thursday as a cultural center dedicated to his mission of advancing civil and human rights.

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RED BANK: FORTUNE ‘MIRACLE’ COMPLETED

red bank nj t. thomas fortune cultural centerThe restored T. Thomas Fortune House on Drs. James Parker Boulevard plans to formally open as a cultural center in May. Below, restoration supervisor Spencer Foxworth and foundation member Robin Blair examine a chandelier to be installed. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

red bank nj t. thomas fortune cultural center

An against-the-odds, decade-long effort to save a Red Bank house that was once the home of a pioneering civil rights journalist has reached its improbable conclusion, people involved in the effort say.

This weekend, local history lovers will get their first-ever chance to tour the T. Thomas Fortune House, a National Historic Register structure that not long ago was about to be razed.

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RED BANK: WORDS AND MUSIC IN THE PARK


Five thousand strong, music lovers found a few hours of respite from everyday noise when the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra played an open-air concert in Red Bank’s Marine Park last summer.

This Sunday, the NJSO returns to the park with another free show, where those in attendance will also get a chance to connect to the borough’s history via the written word.

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RED BANK: STATE UPHOLDS CHARTER RENEWAL

The charter school’s main building, on Oakland Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The Red Bank Charter School does not engage in “segregative” enrollment practices, the New Jersey Department of Education ruled last week in upholding the school’s latest five-year operating charter.

In letter dated April 16 to the charter school, Acting Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet rejected assertions of bias by Fair Schools Red Bank and the Latino Coalition of New Jersey, and found instead that the charter school “is seeking, ‘to the maximum extent practicable,’ to enroll a cross-section of Red Bank Borough’s school-age population.”

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RED BANK: UNITY RALLY DRAWS A MURPHY

Tammy Murphy reacts as her husband, Governor-elect Phil Murphy, calls her while she’s delivering a speech at Saturday’s Unity Rally in Red Bank. The event drew a full house to Pilgrim Baptist Church, below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Ignoring biting cold, dozens of Red Bank-area residents participated in a “unity” march and rally Saturday in honor of two civil rights champions: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and journalist T. Thomas Fortune.

Anchored at Pilgrim Baptist Church, the event featured a cameo appearance by the spouse of Governor-elect Phil Murphy as part of a whirlwind, pre-inaugural tour of New Jersey.

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RED BANK: RALLY FOR IMMIGRANTS SLATED

A “unity and peace” demonstration drew several hundred to Riverside Gardens Park in August. A similar event is slated for Friday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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RED BANK: NEW HISTORY IN FORTUNE HOUSE

Restoration work on the T. Thomas Fortune house is underway in conjunction with the construction of 31 apartments behind it, where an elevator tower is visible. Below, builder Roger Mumford shows off an original decorative corbel removed from just below the roof line of the house, and, in his left hand, a replica made from mahogany. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

After a decade-long effort to save it from the wrecking ball, Red Bank’s T. Thomas Fortune house is in the midst of a restoration that has served up some additional history.

Part of the Second Empire-style mansion on Drs. James Parker Boulevard may be much older than previously believed, says developer Roger Mumford, who is racing to conserve what he can of the structure even as it crumbles before his eyes.

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RED BANK: CHARTER DATA RELEASE ORDERED

Judy DeHaven, below, claims the Red Bank Charter School “continues to operate without transparency or accountability.” (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The New Jersey Government Records Council earlier this week ordered the Red Bank Charter School to release demographic data it failed to provide to a borough resident under an Open Public Records Act request.

The state agency, acting on a complaint filed by Judy DeHaven, found on Tuesday that the school had unlawfully withheld data showing the breakdown of the student population by grade, gender, race, ethnicity and other factors.

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RED BANK: RACIAL ROOTS OF MEMORIAL DAY

Walter Greason in 2014.   (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

As part of a continuing series of discussions called “Let’s Talk About Race,” the Red Bank Public Library hosts a lecture Wednesday night on “The Surprising Origins of Memorial Day.”

RED BANK: HOMEBUILDER EYES FACTORIES

A cluster of industrial buildings between Catherine Street, above, and River Street would be razed for new brownstones, according to the prospective builder. Part of the site abuts the Cedar Crossing homes, seen in the distance above. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A block of factory buildings on Red Bank’s West Side, including some old millworks and a former guitar factory, could give way to new housing in coming months, redbankgreen has learned.

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RED BANK: ACLU ENTERS CHARTER BATTLE

CPA Scott Landau turns a drum as business administrator Theresa Shirley looks on during the charter school enrollment lottery last April. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The American Civil Liberties Union has joined two other organizations already waging war on the Red Bank Charter School‘s existence.

The ACLU of New Jesey said Thursday that, along with Fair Schools Red Bank and the Latino Coalition of New Jersey , it would appeal the state Department of Education’s decision earlier this week to allow the 19-year-old school to operate for at least another five years.

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RED BANK: CHARTER WINS FIVE MORE YEARS

The Red Bank Charter School campus on Oakland Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The Red Bank Charter School is good to go for at least another five years, following an extension of its operating charter announced Wednesday night.

The generally expected renewal comes amid an upswell of tension over the school’s existence, in the form of a pending claim of segregation.

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RED BANK: FEDS TAKE ON ‘SEGREGATION’ CASE

The Red Bank Charter School, on Oakland Street, hotly disputes allegations that the borough schools are “segregated” as a result of its enrollment practices. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03As requested three months ago by two advocacy groups, the federal Justice Education Department is investigating allegations of segregation leveled at the Red Bank Charter School, correspondence obtained by redbankgreen on Tuesday showed.

The decision by the department’s Office of Civil Rights to open an investigation “in no way implies that the OCR has made a determination with regard to its merit,” a government letter to the complainants said.

But the revelation set off a fresh round of sniping in a bitter battle over the charter school’s existence.

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RED BANK: CHARTER FOES ALLEGE FALSE DATA

rbcs graduation 061516 2Attendees at the charter school’s graduation ceremony in Riverside Gardens Park last June. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The Red Bank Charter School engaged in “outright fabrication” of data used to support its pending request for a five-year charter extension, opponents alleged Thursday.

The purported falsification, concerning the numbers of resident white and Hispanic children who attend private and parochial schools, was used “in a deliberate attempt to mislead the state Department of Education and to perpetuate the myth that the taxpayer-funded 200-student school reflects the pre-K through 8th grade demographics of the community,” according to two groups seeking a shutdown of the school over alleged civil rights issues.

The charter school dismissed the allegations.

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