Saturday, community and business organizations in North Jersey will host a panel discussion featuring a Super Bowl-winning wide receiver, a state Assemblywoman, a multiplatinum record producer, and several others.
It will serve as a kickoff event for MLK Weekend in New Jersey.
“A Very Black Fireside Chat” is the brainchild of Paterson native Gemar Mills, a well-known educator and former principal for Newark Public Schools. The name is inspired by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “fireside chats” — a series of radio broadcasts in the early to mid-1900s that touched on various topics that impacted the American people.
“Dr. Mills had this dream of bringing this concept back to life and talking with other powerful professionals from different industries, Black powerful professionals, to talk about how we can create sustainable change for young Black Americans,” said Paterson native Shamari Reed, the event’s main organizer.
A group of successful New Jerseyans will discuss career opportunities in their respective fields.
The panel includes Amani Toomer, a player on the New York Giants Super Bowl-winning team in 2008; Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake, who represents New Jersey’s 34th Legislative District; James W. Crawford III, President of Felician University; Angelo Pinto and Mysonee, founders of social justice advocacy group, Until Freedom; Amadeus, record producer and hitmaker for Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Bad Boy Records; and Kenyatta Stewart, who serves as a counsel for the City of Newark.
“I really think knowledge is power. And I do I think that a lot of our young people of color lack getting knowledge in certain areas or certain professions,” Reed said. “So [we are hosting this event] to discuss how can we help create change for these young people. And not just change, immediate change, [but] sustainable change.”
This event will also feature performances by comedian Hassan Oliver and recording artist Charlie Vox.
It begins at 3 p.m. at Felician University’s Education Commons Building in Rutherford.
Tickets for the event cost $100 per person, and organizers will donate proceeds to College Achieve Public Schools, Reed said.
College Achieve is a free public charter school system in New Jersey, in which youth of color make up a majority of the student population. It has campuses in Paterson, Plainfield, and Neptune.
Other organizers include the Brewington House, LLC, New Jersey General Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Benjie Wimberly, and Kaara Lynder of Kaara’s Childhood Development.