Bloomfield College to Capture Stories About Racial Injustice in Newark

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Bloomfield College is the recipient of a $15,000 New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH) Program Support grant for the project Gateway Keepers: Newark Hi(s)tories of Racial Justice, a collaborative, community-based project intended to shed much-needed light on the city of Newark and its environs during this unprecedented time by creating a multi-modal, digital repository of histories and stories of Newarkers that focus on racial justice for African Americans, Latinos and other communities of color.

The Gateway Keepers project will be undertaken by faculty and students in the Bloomfield College Division of the Humanities with support from the Division of Creative Arts and Technology, the Center for Student Leadership and Engagement (CSLE) and the Bloomfield College Library. Key aspects of the project are to identify and interview residents of Newark to capture their stories about racial (in)justice in the city, to archive the interviews with related photographs, documents and videos - and to develop a podcast to highlight key stories and findings.

“The Gateway Keepers project is principally an oral history project,” said Michael A. Palladino, Ph.D., Bloomfield College Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty. “In capturing the inspiring ways in which Newarkers have fought for racial justice, the project seeks to celebrate the determined spirit of individuals and communities in the greater Newark area. To honor Bloomfield College’s long history in connection with the city of Newark, Gateway Keepers will establish the first digital archive dedicated to Newark at the Bloomfield College Library.”

Bloomfield College Division of the Humanities faculty and Gateway Keepers project leads are Assistant Professor of Writing and Writing Intensive Coordinator Nora McCook, Ph.D., and Humanities Chair and Professor of Writing Brandon Fralix, Ph.D. They are working with Associate Professor and Coordinator of Expanded Media Creative Arts & Technology Laura Nova, M.F.A., and are also launching an advisory group of Bloomfield College-based Newarkers and faculty, staff, students and alumni who have an interest in oral history and in telling Newark’s racial justice stories.  

Initial grant partners include WBGO, Newark’s jazz radio station, The Newark Public Library and The Council for Independent Colleges (CIC) Legacies of American Slavery project which seeks to establish national centers of research, inquiry and public programming dedicated to understanding the complex legacies of slavery in the United States. Through Bloomfield College’s designation as an Institutional Affiliate of the Legacies of American Slavery project, it will receive monetary resources, support and guidance for Gateway Keepers.

In June 2021, the COVID-19 Response Grant program was reopened for New Jersey humanities organizations that experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19. Funding was made possible through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) as operational and programmatic support for nonprofit organizations that provide humanities programming to public audiences to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the pandemic.

Per the NJCH website, the NJCU Program Support Grants, which award grants from $2,000-$20,000, are one of two categories of the COVID-19 Response Grant program, and invited competitive applications from any nonprofit institution or agency or department of state or local government based in New Jersey that undertakes public humanities programs, whether or not the organization’s primary mission is based in the humanities.

The NJCH is a nonprofit state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is working to harness the power of the humanities through cultural and community organizations to bring dynamic programming to the local level.

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