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Groundbreaking Exhibition at The New Jersey Historical Society Examines Newark's 1967 Urban Rebellion

2007-06-18

The New Jersey Historical Society is preparing to launch What's Going On? Newark and the Legacy of the Sixties, a groundbreaking exhibition on urban rebellion in the 1960s and its impact on the people, landscape, institutions and economy of New Jersey. Scheduled to open on September 26, 2007, the exhibition will be on view at the Historical Society's Newark headquarters through August 2008, before beginning a national tour. Featuring photographs, oral histories, artifacts, and period media that recreate Sixties culture, What's Going On? will engage audiences of all ages.

Audiences will have a unique chance to preview the exhibition at the Historical Society on July 9, 2007, from 5PM to 9PM, at a special screening of Revolution '67, a documentary created by independent filmmaker Marylou Tibaldo-Bongiorno for the acclaimed PBS series P.O.V., followed by a panel discussion with historians and activists featured in the film. Audiences will have opportunities to record their reflections about Newark's past and future. These audience reflections will be incorporated into the What's Going On? exhibition.

What's Going On? provides a bold look at one of the most challenging periods in New Jersey's history, when Newark, the state's largest city, was torn by the violence of the 1967 riots.

The confrontations of 1967 were a pivotal chapter in Newark's history, but the events have received little scholarly attention and have never been the subject of an exhibition, says Linda Caldwell Epps, president and CEO of The New Jersey Historical Society. The events of 1967 are especially poignant forty years later, as signs of the city's renaissance abound and residents envision Newark's future with renewed hope and optimism.

Using the city of Newark as a key example, What's Going On? explores the social forces that led to the outbreak of urban unrest in the 1960s and the struggle for renewal and rebirth since that time. The exhibition incorporates cutting-edge media components and displays, including a wall-sized interactive timeline and a visitor response booth where visitors can leave comments and reflections on the past and future of Newark.

"The New Jersey Historical Society has a unique array of resources to tell this story," says Beth Mauro, director for advancement and project director for What's Going On? I've recorded close to 100 oral histories from people who were directly affected by the 1967 events, and we've assembled a fascinating collection of photographs, documents, and media from the period. Our challenge is to make this history come alive for today's audiences using innovative platforms; to give visitors the tools to get inside the history; and to create the feeling of what it was actually like to experience those times."

The Historical Society developed What's Going On? with input from humanities scholars and advisor's from the local community who helped shape the exhibition's approach to the topic. This approach acknowledges that there are many different perspectives on what happened in Newark in 1967, why it happened, and what we can learn from the experience. The themes and educational goals of What's Going On? support the Historical Society's programmatic mission to use New Jersey stories to critically explore broader topics in American history, foster dialog within the community, expand understanding of diverse pasts, and encourage engagement in a shared future.

's Going On? covers a moment in American history whose memory and meaning are challenged," says Clement A. Price, Ph.D., the chief historian of the exhibition. "These events are windows into the social tensions of their time. With What's Going On?, we hope to challenge audience members to think about them in a fresh way." Newark serves as an ideal starting point to discuss what happened, since its story contains many of the elements shared by other cities that saw urban violence.

Education Resources, Special Programs and Publications
The exhibition will reach large numbers of students through an extensive program of museum educator-led interactive tours for Newark area students and their teachers; teacher workshops and professional development activities; a robust curriculum binder, replete with lesson plans, reproductions of primary sources (newspapers, documents, images); a What's Going On? Web site; and print publications.

To augment the exhibit, What's Going On? will be accompanied by:

An advanced screening of Revolution '67, a documentary created by independent filmmaker Marylou Tibaldo-Bongiorno for the acclaimed PBS series P.O.V., followed by a panel discussion with historians and activists featured in the film (July 9, 2007; 5 PM to 9PM)

Guided walking tours that explore the impact of 1967's unrest on architecture and urban planning.

A distinguished speaker series with lectures and panel discussions by historians, authors and other luminaries

A community conversations series, focusing upon demographic change and the impact of urban redevelopment on the life of the city and the region.

A scholarly conference and subsequent publication on topics relating to race, ethnicity, politics, and the urban environment in post-war New Jersey.

A guided audio tour of the exhibition

A companion guide to the exhibition, with an introduction by Clement A. Price, Ph.D., Professor of History, Rutgers-Newark.

An ongoing oral history initiative to record and preserve the reflections of New Jerseyans whose lives have been affected " directly or indirectly " by the 1967 urban rebellion.

Exhibition Support
What's Going On? Newark and the Legacy of the Sixties is made possible by the generosity of: Public Service Electric and Gas(PSE&G); Prudential; The Victoria Foundation; The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; The Independence Community Foundation; Investors Savings Bank; the Jockey Hollow Foundation; the New Jersey Historical Commission, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, and individual donors.

About The New Jersey Historical Society
Located in Newark's thriving downtown cultural district, The New Jersey Historical Society is a statewide, private, nonprofit historical museum, library and archives. Founded in 1845, we are dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the rich and intricate political, social, cultural and economic history of New Jersey to the broadest possible audience.

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