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.”
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.”
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.