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Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Center Opens Its Doors throughout Newark

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Consuella Askew, director of John Cotton Dana Library

The Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center at Rutgers University–Newark (RU-N) officially opened its doors recently with a simultaneous launch at various libraries throughout Newark, including RU-N’s John Cotton Dana Library.

TRHT Campus Centers is a comprehensive, national, and community-based initiative developed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities and funded by Newman’s Own Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to help bring about transformational and sustainable change that addresses the historic and contemporary effects of racism. Established at 10 colleges and universities in the United States, the TRHT Campus Centers will engage and empower campus and community stakeholders to confront and dismantle the conscious and unconscious biases and misperceptions that exacerbate racial tension in America.

The simultaneous launch brings TRHT spaces to RU-N Dana Library in Newark’s Central Ward and four Newark Public Library branches (North Ward’s North End Branch, West Ward’s Vailsburg Branch, East Ward’s Van Buren Branch, and South Ward’s Weequahic Branch), creating safe places where people can participate in interactive projects such as Racial Healing Circles, Healing Sounds of Newark spoken word events, and ‘ImVisible’ art programs. These first-ever TRHT-in-libraries centers will host public events for the citizens of Newark and the metro area to accomplish the following:

  • increase positive engagement and perceptions of Newark among RU-N faculty, staff, and students;
  • foster positive engagement and perceptions of Newark and its surrounding communities;
  • facilitate ongoing on- and off-campus conversations concerning issues of truth and racial healing;
  • leverage RU-N resources to facilitate a reduction in poverty and unemployment in Newark and strengthen Newark’s economy by 2020; and
  • change legislative policies regarding voting rights of individuals in the criminal justice system, specifically those on parole or probation, and/or who have a criminal conviction.

ImVisible, for example, is serial programming that shares the migrant experience through music, art, and poetry. These monthly events gather individuals to create safe and open spaces for conversation, celebration, and the sharing of knowledge that aim to center, see, hear, and feel the many intersecting migrant populations present in Newark.

Jeffrey Trzeciak, director of the Newark Public Library

In his remarks on launch day at Dana Library, Jeffrey Trzeciak, director of the Newark Public Library, expressed his deep appreciation for the library’s inclusion in the TRHT initiative and described the library’s involvement to date. “Since becoming partners with Rutgers on this initiative we have co-hosted a number of events related to Hispanic Heritage Month and even hosted a course being taught by [Rutgers-Newark’s] Honors Living-Learning Community at our main library,” he noted. The Honors Living-Learning Community is an innovative approach to the honors college model that mixes a student’s academic prowess with his or her exemplary leadership abilities, commitment to social justice, and remarkable doggedness.

“We look forward to continuing the partnership with events on Jan. 22, 2019, the National Day of Racial Healing, and in the spring of 2019 when we will be screening the documentary Racism in Newark,” said Trzeciak.

“Libraries are the depositories, producers, and lenders of intellectual capital -- intellectual capital which is then invested back into the community for progressive and transformational movements such as the TRHT to make sure that our communities are moving forward in a positive direction,” added Consuella Askew, director of Dana Library, addressing the appropriateness of libraries as loci for TRHT gatherings. She further stated, “Very soon Dana Library will have its first formal Archives Department that will be responsible for acquiring and making accessible materials that document the history of RU-N as an anchor institution in the city of Newark. Our goal is to tell the story accurately and truthfully, without censor or filter. We will use our collections to develop constructive programming that will contribute to the goals of racial healing in our local communities.”

Sharon Stroye, director of public engagement at the Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration and a co-leader of the TRHT Campus Center at RU-N, spoke at the North End Branch launch. “The collaboration between the TRHT Center and the Newark Public Library will allow the community residents an opportunity to share their stories and experiences as Newarkers,” Stroye stated. “The North End Branch launch was rewarding and encouraging. The parents, children, and individuals using the library to research employment opportunities were engaged, excited, and looking forward to the next event,” she observed.

To learn more about TRHT or this event, visit www.trhtcenterinnewark.org, www.npl.org, or www.libraries.rutgers.edu. Videos about TRHT can be viewed here https://www.njtvonline.org/news/video/rutgers-newark-establishes-new-center-confront-racism/ and here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itJtUFu3yFY. Stay connected by following TRHT on Facebook (@NewarkTRHT) and Twitter (@TRHTNewark) using hashtags #myracialhealing and #TRHTRUN.