NIOT ‘s major project in winter/spring 2010 was the presentation of Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North on March 11, at PPL. This disturbing and deeply moving film documents the Browne family’s journey retracing the steps of the Triangle Trade and coming face-to-face with their family’s history and legacy in the slave trade. The film was followed by a discussion led by Daphne Hawkes, an Episcopalian priest and Princeton resident with long involvement in race relations work. A racially diverse group of approximately 100 persons filled the community room at PPL to capacity and the after-film discussion was forthright and thoughtful – a very good expression of NIOT’s commitment “… to open an honest truth telling among our diverse communities.”
In the fall, NIOT, along with Princeton Friends Meeting and the Princeton Public Library, co-sponsored a 2 part series on Bayard Rustin – showing of the film “Brother Outsider” on October 27, followed by a talk on November 3, by Melissa Harris (Lacewell) Perry,” Unsung Hero of the Civil Rights Movement.” Both events were well attended indwell received.
NIOT’s discussion series Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege met on the first Monday of each month 7:30 PM at the Princeton Public Library throughout the year except for the summer months. NIOT members, sometimes paired with community attenders, took turns in leading the discussions, with about 15-20 persons taking part. The number of community attenders has continued to grow with a core group of 5-6 who come regularly. Interest remains high. The program will continue in 2011 with NIOT members and members of the community sharing the task of selecting topics and leading conversations.
NIOT sub-groups on membership, Unity Awards, and program met over the summer to evaluate the status of these elements and to make recommendations for improvement. In the September meeting, action plans were developed to (1) enlarge the diversity of faith community members, (2) to make changes in the process of selection of JWMS awardees, and (3) to develop a program to follow-up on the 2008 project, Engaging Together to Explore White Privilege. Sub-committee members were active throughout the fall in carrying-out these recommendations.
Regarding publicity, we sent out press releases and photos (taken pro bono by Roland Glover) for the Unity Awards. The Princeton Public Library issued hard copy bulletin announcements, press releases, and fliers for the Traces of the Trade series and the Bayard Rustin series. Fliers were issued for each of the Continuing Conversations on Race. In addition to the widely circulated bulletin “Connections,” the library posted these events on its website, and they were further distributed by Twitter and Face book users.
NIOT also supported other groups in carrying out community action/advocacy activities throughout 2010, including:
Assisting the Minority Education Committee “No Child Left Behind” program series on January 16 and April 23;
Joining the YMCA’s Stand against Racism on April 30 in a walk with Borough Merchants through Palmer Square. NIOT purchased space (ad) in Town Topics acknowledging the merchants who participated in the walk. Later, in the afternoon, NIOT held a demonstration event at Tiger Park on Nassau Street, including recruiting a singing group from the HS and offering interactive questions for sidewalk passers;
Supporting LALDEF in promoting use of Community ID cards;
Supporting PPL presentations on topics related to NIOT mission.
Most importantly, NIOT Princeton entered the social media age with a Not in Our Town Princeton blog. It was established at the end of 2009, with 9 posts. In 2010 we made 53 posts, ranging from announcing our own activities, to highlighting other events of interest, to commenting on items in national or community news. Sometimes these posts attracted dialogue of comments. Sometimes members of the NIOT community — board members or attenders — contributed posts. The posts were circulated to our growing email list, which now numbers more than 50 participants in our programs, and was often forwarded by these recipients to others. These posts are available to be used on Twitter.
We also began to contribute pages to the website of the national NIOT organization, moderated by Linda Oppenheim. Comments on the national website have come from as far away as Alaska. The national NIOT has written a 700-word feature, with two color pictures about NIOT Princeton.
A search on the national website for “Princeton” reveals dozens of references. Many are reprints of the 700-word feature but they also include all of our Continuing Conversation announcements and comments by our members on issues of national interest (Ann Yasuhara, in April, commented that the Princeton Public Library was where everyone felt comfortable).