It’s amazing when a group of individuals begin a conversation, passion for the topic begins to emerge and soon there is magic happening. This is what occurred and led up to the recent Stories of Newark Opening on the grounds of Bloomfield College on April 27, 2022 that attracted more than 100 attendees, both from within and outside the campus.
With input from a new advisory group to the College’s grant-funded Stories of Newark oral history project that had been underway since fall 2021, the goal of capturing oral histories to document past and current struggles for racial equality in Newark was further enhanced by the addition of new visual components.
“I have been buoyed by the tremendous support for this project by members of our community,” said Assistant Professor of Writing and Writing Intensive Coordinator Nora McCook, Ph.D. “When I put out a call on campus to check on interest, a pool of individuals – from faculty, to students to alumni – stepped forward and responded. We soon established an advisory group and those members – especially through the leadership of Professor Laura Nova – moved to the visual aspects of storytelling.”
What came together was a marriage between the Newark Photo Walk work of alumni Chrystofer Davis '15, the design work of student artist Hugo Gonzalez ’22 and the interviewing expertise of broadcast journalism major Tyra Brooks ’22, among others. Soon, Photoville, a New York-based non-profit organization known for amplifying visual storytellers by working to promote a wider understanding and increased access to the art of photography for all, was brought in and the final project emerged.
The communal aspect of this project has brought so many additional resources together. The Bloomfield College Alumni Association sponsored a photo contest with prizes to further support the project. WBGO Public Radio developed a special podcast series covering the oral histories being uncovered. BC Underground Magazine focused on Newark in its spring 2022 issue. And, specifically for the Stories of Newark Opening, Gourmet Dining, LLC worked hand-in-hand with the project coordinators to research and offer Newark-themed foods at the event.
“The Bloomfield College community has immersed themselves in this uplifting project to tell stories of Newark – using storytelling, photography, and now public art – and involved students in every aspect of the production,” added McCook. “I want to thank all who have been involved from day one to now – and know that there is much more to come.”
The Stories of Newark project is supported by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act.
Questions should be directed to Bloomfield College Assistant Professor of Writing and Writing Intensive Coordinator, Dr. Nora McCook.