March 2009 Enewsletter

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News from The South Orange/Maplewood
Community Coalition on Race

Vol. III, Issue 1                                                            March  2009
In This Issue
To Our Donors…
Welcome to the Coalition’s E-Newsletter!
How Race Is Lived In South Orange/Maplewood
We Need Your Stories!
Coalition Gets Arts Grant!
New Trustees…
And a New Chair!
Understanding the Academic Achievement Gap Study Groups Is a Success
Martin Luther King Day Praised in the News
Former Chair Honored by New York Stock Exchange
Calling All Volunteers! We Need You!

To Our  Donors…
thank you

The South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race depends on the kindness of our friends.  Please accept our deepest gratitude for the gifts you gave us during 2008– your gifts prove that you support lasting integration and true inclusion.  It is a wonderful feeling to know that we are part of a community that understands the importance of this work.

If this is your first issue of the Coalition’s  E-Newsletter….
…Welcome!  This is one way we use to let people know what we are doing, and what we are planning.  Our  Annual Report will  be coming as part of a hard copy newsletter in a few weeks, and these e-newsletters come out three or four times a year.  Please let us know what you think– call us at 973-761-6116 or email us at, and consider volunteering for one of our committees!  We are thrilled to have you with us.

How Race is Lived in South Orange/ Maplewood Forum April 28, 2009
On April 28, 2009, as part of its Integration Through the Arts Initiative, the Coalition will present another forum combining discussion and improvisions by professional actors about How Race is Lived in South Orange/Maplewood. The photo above shows actors and the director of the 2008 edition, “Language, Stereotypes, and Communication.”

We Need Your Stories of How Race Is Lived In South Orange/Maplewood!
The Coalition’s April 28 Forum “How Race Is Lived In South Orange/Maplewood” depends on having local people send us their anecdotes about race in our local community!
These should be brief, no more than 250 words, about your personal experience. They can range from the heart-warming to the shocking to the surprising- to the simply ordinary.
Many of the stories will be posted anonymously on our web site, and some will be chosen to be turned into brief performance pieces, often in combination with others. These pieces will be improvised by professional actors at the Forum and used as material for table discussions.
Please email your story to by April 1 at the latest.
For sample stories from the 2008 discussion and improvisations see,stereotypes,&communication.html .
Thank you in advance for your participation in this!  We need your stories!

Coalition Again Honored with Arts Grant
discoverjerseyartsFor the fourth year in a row, the South Orange/Maplewood Coalition on Race’s Integration Through the Arts Initiative has been awarded a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts that is  administered by the Essex County Division of Cultural  and Historic Affairs. The Coalition is proud to be a recipient of this award again.  Learn more about Arts in New Jersey at

Eight New Coalition Trustees
2009 trusteesThe 2009 class of new trustees and Maplewood township liaison for the Coalition are, left to right: Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca,  Bruno Lee, Ian Grodman, Mark Mucci, Rev.  Dumerzier Charles, Liz McMahon, Amy Koehler, and Alice Baldwin-Jones. Not pictured is Abigail Cotler

Meet Marlon Brownlee, New Chair of the Coaltion-eicle Headline
Linda Alison Marlon K. Brownlee has been elected chair of the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race. He and his wife Jeaniene have lived in our community for over sixteen years, and they have two children.
In addition to the Coalition, Marlon is recognized for his commitment to school-related work, having served on the Executive Committee of the PTA/HSA Presidents Council as President and 1st Vice President; he has also served as President and as Vice President of the South Mountain Elementary School PTA and as Treasurer of the South Orange Middle School HSA.
He is the past President of the Cornell University Black Alumni Association and the past communications chairman of the Independent Computer Consultants Association (ICCA). In his professional life, Marlon has worked as a business consultant for over twenty years, helping clients around the country evaluate, select and implement business management systems.
Marlon and his wife were attracted to South Orange/Maplewood because they wanted to live in a diverse, suburban community that had a school system with a demonstrable commitment to academic excellence and an environment that would enrich their lives not just academically but socially as well. As a result, he is passionate about the Coalition’s work, knowing how important the work that they do is in building and maintaining the racially integrated community that attracted his family here originally.
Mr. Brownlee is a graduate of Cornell University and holds an MBA with dual concentrations in Marketing and Management Information Systems from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management. In his spare time, he enjoys playing basketball, running, martial arts and bicycling.

Understanding the Minority Achievement Gap Series is a Success

Schools Committee Member Dr. Chris Catching leads discussion.

The Schools Committee of the Coalition planned and hosted an exciting series of facilitated reading groups and short presentations covering the latest research on the Minority Achievement Gap nationally and in our district. Led by Schools Committee members Dr. Chris Catching, Jane Rauen, and Nancy Solomon, the sessions attracted between forty-five and sixty community members, teachers, Board of Education members, staff, and parents.  The sessions, which just finished, were held at South Orange Middle School four Thursday evenings. The group did readings in theory and research and listened to academic speakers including Dr. Chris Catching, Dr. Diane Hughes, Peter Heinze, and a panel of local individuals who are involved in the school district, including the superintendent, teachers, a board member, and current and former students.

This series was the second one on this topic produced by the Schools Committee of the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race as an action step for raising the level of community discussion and understanding about the academic achievement gap. The final session ended with table discussions that suggested practical ways– based on the readings, lectures, and discussions– for our community to work toward closing the gap.

To read the articles for yourself, go to

Linda Alison

Annual Martin Luther King Program Garners Praise in the Media!

Linda AlisonThe New Jersey Jewish News editor-in-chief Andrew Silow-Carroll wrote in his column that “South Orange and Maplewood embody that vision [of true inclusion] like few other communities. The Community Coalition on Race is an experiment not just in diversity, as its executive director Nancy Gagnier said in her introductory remarks, but integration.”

The Coalition’s Interfaith Outreach Committee sponsored the eighth annual Martin Luther King Day program and volunteer fair, “Making It More Than A Dream,” at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 767 Prospect St., Maplewood on January 19, 2009.  This year’s speaker was the Reverend Raquel A. St. Clair, Ph.D., the first woman to serve as an Executive Minister to the 5600 members of the historic St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church in Newark, NJ.

AFormer Chair Honored by New York Stock Exchangerticle Headline
marchman Robert A. Marchman, founding member and former chair of the Coalition is the New York Stock Exchange Diversity Council Chairman and Enforcement Chief. He was given the honor of ringing the opening bell at the Stock Exchange on Monday, January 26, 2007 to celebrate the Diversity Council’s 10th anniversary. Since its founding in 1999, the Council has successfully initiated a series of programs to foster an open, inclusive work environment. Mr. Marchman was joined on the bell balcony by the chairs of the Council’s committees. To see the video, click here.

Join Us–We Need You!
The Coalition needs your help. If you’re a grant writer, a fund raiser, a web consultant, a graphic designer or a photographer (especially one whose digital camera is always handy!), please let us hear from you. If you want to actively support the Coalition’s efforts to create true integration in our Two Towns, please call the office at 973-761-6116 and VOLUNTEER!

We hope you enjoy our newsletter.  And if you’d like to share our good news with a friend, just click the “Forward email” link below. . . .

Have you a question for us or a comment about the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race?  If so, send us an email at,
or call our office, 973-761-6116 ext. 6.
For more information about the Community Coalition and its programs, please visit our website,
From the Executive Director
Linda Alison
Executive Director, Nancy Gagnier

We went to work early in 2009 building a truly inclusive community with our Martin Luther King Jr. Day Observance entitled “Making it More than a Dream.” The Interfaith Outreach Committee and Program Director Audrey Rowe did a masterful job including speakers and participants of different races in a range of ages and faiths, helping us to take a step forward in our pro- integrative efforts. This year’s speaker was the powerful and eloquent Reverend Raquel A. St. Clair, a member of our community and an Executive Minister at St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church in Newark. On the eve of the inauguration of our first black president, Reverend St. Clair told us that part of building the beloved community in King’s terms involves “a revisioning and reimagining of the world.”

That is just what the Community Coalition is about. We stand as the rejoinder to Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent comment that America is “a nation of cowards” when it comes to talking about race. We do talk to each other about race. Without a community like ours, willing to take on the tough questions and to take positive steps toward integration, there will be no revisioning our world.

On that note, the Schools Committee was hard at work throughout January and February hosting our Achievement Gap Study Series. 50 parents, teachers, administrators, and community members engaged in discussions based on the latest research. Our goal is to raise the level of understanding in the community of this complicated and vexing issue facing educators, parents, and students. The final session ended with table discussions that suggested practical ways– based on the readings, lectures, and discussions– for our community to work toward closing the gap.

We have a lot planned for the upcoming months. As always, we continue to pursue an aggressive marketing strategy to keep demand for housing strong and to tell about the great quality of life we have here-work that has taken on even greater importance in an economic downturn. The Trustees are working on a Community Forum in April, entitled “How Race is Lived in SO/M” which will make use of the dramatic arts to help us continue to address difficult questions about race and to see the bright points in our efforts at integration.

I welcome all in our two towns to join the conversation by attending an event or joining one of our committees!

Feel free to email a response to us at

About Us
The South Orange/ Maplewood Community Coalition on Race has entered its thirteenth year of service. The Coalition is a  nationally recognized non-profit organization with hundreds of volunteers who work together to build an inclusive community free from racial segregation in housing patterns and community participation. The pro-integrative work of our South
Community Coalition on Race serves as a successful model for other communities nation wide.

To learn more, please visit us at or call 973-761-6116 ext. 6.
Quick Links
Coming Events
Spring Forum and Community Discussion April 28, 2009:
How Race Is Lived In South Orange/ Maplewood Forum

For more information and to register please call 973-761-6116, X6

Watch your mailbox in April for the Annual Report and hardcopy newsletter.

Please visit

or call 973-761-6116 x6

for details on

all of our events!
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