February 6, 2007

CONTACT: Tom Plante, 908-527-4746
Sebastian D’Elia, 908-527-4419

150 anniversary

As one of a series of events and activities planned in conjunction with the yearlong celebration of the 150th Anniversary of Union County’s formation, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to present an exhibit entitled “Celebrating 150 Years of Black American Heritage: 1857-2007.” The exhibit features 24 black and white photos of notable local Black men and women who made significant contributions to the County’s cultural legacy.

The exhibit will be on display through Feb. 28 at the Freeholders Gallery, located on the 6th floor of the Union County Administration Building, at Elizabethtown Plaza and Rahway Avenue, in downtown Elizabeth. The Gallery is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

Among the group of notables featured are: Amos Noe Freeman (1810-1893), an Underground Railroad operative born in Rahway, who was the grandfather of the famous portrait painter and illustrator Laura Wheeler Waring; Rev. William Drew Robeson (1845-1918), founder of St. Luke’s African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Westfield and father of Paul Robeson; Rev. Florence Spearing Randolph (1866-1951), pastor and builder of the Wallace Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church in Summit and organizer in 1915 of the New Jersey State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs; John Matthew Shippen (1879-1968), America’s first professional golfer to play in a U.S. Open Championship and head pro/groundskeeper at Shady Rest (now Scotch Hills Country Club) in Scotch Plains, the first Black-owned golf and country club in the United States; and  Rev. William A. Everett Lattimore, Union County’s first Black Freeholder and the first Black Mayor of Plainfield.

The exhibit was conceived and developed by Ethel M. Washington, History Programs Coordinator in the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs. Most of the photographs are featured in her book, Union County Black Americans (Arcadia Publishing).

The exhibits at the Freeholders Gallery are coordinated by the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs. For further information about this exhibit and other programs and services related to the arts and Union County history, contact the Office at 633 Pearl Street, Elizabeth NJ 07202; telephone (908) 558-2550; or E-mail: