StoryCorps Griot Facilitators (l to r) Alex Wright, John Randolph and Elaine Davenport try to get the GriotBooth rolling, while facilitator Nadja Middleton waves goodbye to Military Park in Newark and settles in for the long ride to Detroit, Michigan. Nadja is the only current Griot facilitator who will travel with the booth to Detroit. Alex and John will return to New York, while Elaine will join MobileBooth East in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Newark has been our home for 6 weeks, but now the show must go on. Detroit here we come.
StoryCorps Griot was honored to have not one, but three World War II veterans in booth today. Seen above are friends and fellow American Legion members (l to r) George Reed, John Knox, Calvin Weems, and Angelo Colbourne, all standing in front of the Wars of America monument in Newark, NJ’s Military Park.
On Saturday, we had the honor of helping Mary Weaver and Darcelle Harris memorialize their sons, who were both killed by police brutality. Both women were able to turn their grief into action by joining POP (People’s Organization for Progress), which is where Mary and Darcelle met.
Husband and wife William and Terrae Bland came to the StoryCorps GriotBooth to talk about growing up in East Orange, New Jersey, where they both still live today . It was the epitome of StoryCorps Griot: two family members sharing memories and stories that reflect the African American experience.
To our pleasure and surprise, Terrae returned to the StoryCorps GriotBooth to give us a doll she made. A woman sits in a chair with a young girl in her lap, to whom the woman is reading “Griot Tales” – a perfect representation of the StoryCorps Griot mission. Don’t worry though, participants are not required to come bearing gifts. The stories we collect are gift enough.
StoryCorps is happy to be partnering with GlassRoots, a Newark, New Jersey nonprofit that “provides artistic and life skills training to Newark area youth through workshops in glassmaking, graphic design, and basic business and entrepreneurial concepts”. Seen above is a concrete bench covered in a glass tile mosaic made by the students at GlassRoots. It is currently on display in the front window of GlassRoots at 10 Bleeker St. in downtown Newark, but will make its permanent home in one of Newark’s public parks.
Brothers Junius (left) and Che (right) test out the microphones while dad Junius (below) looks on.
The sons asked their dad about growing up in Newark during the 60′s and 70′s, including his memory of the day Kenneth Gibson was elected as the first African American mayor of Newark, New Jersey. This interview took place at the Urban League of Essex County, one of several outreach partners StoryCorps Griot is working with in Newark.
Opening day in Newark drew a large crowd. Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps, Mayor Corey Booker, Cephas Bowles of WBGO, John Franklin of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Rutgers history professor Clement Price spoke about the inspiration for and promises of the Griot tour. The facilitators worked to capture the event, and below are several photos of the speakers and audience members. Alexandria Wright, the newest member of the Griot team, poses with the newest sticker on the Griot Boooth: that of Jazz station WBGO, our Newark radio partner.