NJAI Literacy Project Performance Held at Montclair Art Museum

Essex County, NJ, 6/28/10

The New Jersey Arts Incubator, the Rose Parks School, the Orange Public School and the Montclair Art Museum partnered this spring on an innovative literacy project for 20 students of the Rosa Park School, which culminated in a recent performance at MAM.

Hundreds of community members participating in the Montclair Art Museum Community Day on June 13th enjoyed the 20 minute performance by Orange 13-16 year old students from the Rosa Parks School in Orange New Jersey. Based on the Force For Change exhibit at MAM which explores and celebrates the numerous recipients of the Julius Rosenwald Fund, the literacy project presentation included poetry presentation and movement chosen and performed the students.

“The Julius Rosenwald Fund Literacy Project provided our students an experience outside of their normal daily environment,” said NJAI Education Director Joseph Gardner.  “We had the opportunity to bring them to the museum and expose them to the legacy of Julius Rosenwald. Through their exploration of these funded artists the students learned about the rich cultural experience of African Americans of this period and translated that to knowledge into performance that reflected their own lives.”

NJAI is committed to creating and supporting a partnership between art, education and communication.  Professionals in the performing arts and arts development share their knowledge with students of all ages with a special emphasis on artistic programming for children of diverse cultures in low socio-economic backgrounds.

Julius Rosenwald founder and owner of Sears & Roebuck, who lived in the late 19th and early 20th century established a fund with a principal mission to improve the life of African Americans in this country.  The Fund’s greatest interest was rural education, and his partner in developing schools was Booker T Washington and the Tuskeegee Institute.  In addition, the Fund contributed support to a wide variety of artists, writers, poets, playwrights, teachers, journalists and others. The Julius Rosenwald Fund was designed to devote all its resources to philanthropy and ultimately, it gave away more than 70 million dollars, through 1948.

“This was so much fun," said Ayomide Mustapha, one of the eighth grade participants. "I had never heard of any of these poets, but they were writing about people like me. I can't wait to get a chance to do something like this again."

A second Julius Rosenwald Fund Literacy Project summer program between NJAI and the Rosa Parks School has begun, engaging 60 City of Orange Township students in the exploration of culture and art. The summer program is partially funded by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation.

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