(HACKENSACK, NJ) -- The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation's (NNJCF) ArtsBergen hosted the official public reveal of "The Black Women's Mural" painted by artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, in a celebration at the Women's Rights Information Center (WRIC) on November 14, 2022. The mural, located at 108 West Palisade Avenue on the WRIC's east facing wall in downtown Englewood, New Jersey, was designed with the participation and feedback from Englewood Black women and the community-at-large gleaned in several public workshops.
The mural features Black women leaders from the past and the present. These leaders include suffragist Ida B. Wells; Dr. Josie Carter, an original member of the Women's Rights Information Center's board of directors; and activists protesting segregation at the city's Lincoln Elementary School. Other people shown are Hali Cooper, an Englewood resident, who walked in the Black Lives Matter march and Kia S. Thornton Miller, whose family has lived in Englewood for several generations, and her daughter Toni Michelle Miller, a ninth grade student at Bergen County Technical Schools.
The mural celebrates Black women's voices, raises awareness about Black suffragists, and encourages civil discourse within the community. The mural sparked pride recognizing and honoring the Black community's contributions through a large-scale public artwork located in the center of one of the busiest downtowns in Bergen County, New Jersey. Sixth to ninth graders from Englewood created mini-murals inspired by the bravery of the Black suffragists in the Black Girls Empowerment workshop hosted by Arts Horizon. Their artwork was also displayed at the celebration.
The NNJCF's ArtsBergen initiative oversaw, fundraised and facilitated the project. “The success of this project was evident by the faces in the crowd full of pride and even some tears. The Black Women’s Mural beautifies downtown Englewood and is an expression of the voices, culture, and stories of the Black suffragists and Black woman of the city. The artwork elevates the value of their activism and generates ownership of place, said Danielle De Laurentis, Associate Director, Northern New Jersey Community Foundation.
"It was a pleasure to work with our partners -- The Women’s Rights Information Center, Metro Community Center, and the Woman’s Club of Englewood -- and members of the community, who each played a role in making the project a success. The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation's ArtsBergen looks forward to continuing its work with the community and the City to create more meaningful public art."
Several leaders from the community spoke about the merits and the completion of this special project driven by Englewood Black women and the Black suffragists, who inspired them. Speakers included De Laurentis, Fazlalizadeh, Lil Corcoran from the Women's Rights Information Center, Jacqueline Wisner from the Woman’s Club of Englewood, Peggy King Jorde from King Jorde Culturals, Lynne Algrant from the NNJCF's Board of Directors, Lauren Nance from the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes, Englewood Councilman Charles Cobb, and Englewood resident Toni Michelle Miller.
“What are you willing to do to make change? asked Corcoran, Executive Director of the Women's Rights Information Center. "People suffered to give us these rights. Everyone can do something.”
“If a picture is worth a thousand words, we have been given a history book," said Wisner, Treasurer, Women's Club of Englewood.
From October 28 through November 11, the public came and watched Fazlalizadeh paint the mural on the Women's Rights Information Center's building. Filming of a video, sponsored by the Woman’s Club of Englewood and the Teaneck Englewood And Vicinity Club of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc., documented the project and mural process, as a memorable event in women’s history in Englewood.
The major supporters for the project included the Northern NJ Community Foundation, AARP New Jersey, Valley Bank, Sozosei Foundation, Visions Federal Credit Union, Age-Friendly Englewood, and PNC Bank. Learn more about the project on the NNJCF's website at https://bit.ly/AARPCommunityGrant and bit.ly/3qpZvTG.
Founded in 1998, the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation (NNJCF), a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization based in Hackensack, New Jersey, focuses primarily on civic engagement, education, public health, the environment, philanthropy, and the arts. The NNJCF works with local governments, school districts, businesses, non-profit organizations, and citizen groups in Northern New Jersey to improve community life. The Foundation's partners identify and resolve regional problems and opportunities by talking and learning from each other and sharing ideas, best practices, services, and resources.
ArtsBergen, an initiative of the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation, is an arts alliance in Bergen County, New Jersey that supports and encourages creative placemaking, the practice of integrating arts and culture into a neighborhood, town, or region to build community and livability and boost local economy. The initiative's mission is to energize and unify Bergen County artists and arts organizations and connect the communities in the region to the arts.
Photos by Sam Lee
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