Presented by the Union County Board of Commissioners and the City of Rahway
Union County, NJ – February 7, 2022 – The Union County Board of County Commissioners, in partnership with the City of Rahway, is pleased to present a live performance of the award-winning Broadway play Fences at the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway on Friday, February 18th at 7:00 p.m. The performance is part of a series hosted by the Commissioner Board in recognition of Black History Month.
“For almost 30 years, Fences has had a widespread impact for its intense portrayal of a family struggling against time, place and boundaries, while offering us new pathways for affirming our own hopes, dreams and expectations. We are very pleased to bring this groundbreaking theatrical experience to live audiences here in Union County, in partnership with the City of Rahway,” said Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams.
The event will also include the presentation of the annual Chester Holmes Humanitarian award, which was established by the Freeholder Board, now Commissioner Board, in 2012, as a highlight of Black History Month honoring the former County Freeholder and Rahway resident Chester Holmes, who passed away later that year in 2012. An accomplished civic leader who loved the Union County community, Mr. Holmes was a former police officer, community volunteer and member of the Army National Guard. He was the owner of his own company, Holmes Security, and a former Rahway Councilman.
The 2022 awardee is Dr. Inez Phillips Durham. Dr. Durham has made advocacy for children and families her life’s work as a practicing psychologist, a public school administrator, a local office holder, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and member of the Board of Trustees of Plainfield Public Library. She has received recognition for her many contributions to the community as a volunteer from elected officials and local governments as well as from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the NJ Coalition of Black Trade Unions, and the Board of Trustees of United Family and Children’s Society of Plainfield among other organizations. Always active and engaged, Dr. Durham is currently working with the Plainfield Division of Parks and Recreation on the Plainfield Plays Tennis project, highlighting tennis as an intergenerational activity to bring the entire community together.
The performance is free of charge but tickets must be reserved in advance. The UCPAC operates under the following COVID guidelines:
- No one is allowed in the theater without either proof of COVID vaccine, or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of showtime.
- Masks are required for all attendees.
Fences is a 1983 play by American playwright August Wilson, exploring a range of themes focusing on race relations and the evolving African-American experience. It premiered on Broadway in 1987, winning the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 1987 Tony Award for Best Play. The production, featuring James Earl Jones, Mary Alice and Courtney B. Vance, also won the Tony Awards for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play, Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play, and Best Direction of a Play, as well as the Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding New Play, Outstanding Actor in a Play, and Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play. It also received two Tony Award nominations for Best Featured Actor in a Play.
“The Rahway City Council and I are proud to once again partner with the Union County Commissioners to present this special Black History Month event at the beautiful Union County Performing Arts Center, and to welcome the Rahway Social Justice Commission as an additional partner,” said Raymond Giacobbe, Mayor of Rahway. We look forward to welcoming the community to enjoy a landmark work such as ‘Fences’ right in downtown Rahway.”
This year the Commissioner Board’s series of Black History Month events kicked off with a flag raising ceremony at the Union County Courthouse on Tuesday, February 1st. The series also includes a virtual Lunch and Learn session titled, “Maintaining Our Mental Health: Wellness Strategies for Coping during the Pandemic” on Wednesday, February 9th, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
On February 24th at 6:30 p.m., the Commissioner Board will also host a free lecture on Zoom by Professor Keith E. Walcott of Union County College titled, “African American Survival: from Jim Crow to Civil Rights and beyond.” Professor Walcott will trace the capacity of African Americans to survive and achieve against great odds.
During Black History Month, the Commissioner Board also engages with various programs and activities throughout Union County, including an event featuring the 19 Black County-Elected officials in New Jersey on Wednesday, February 2nd at Kean University in Union Township. Union County’s social media channels will also feature Black History Month messages in recognition of the “Divine Nine” historically Black sororities and fraternities.
For more information and updates on Union County’s Black History Month series, including links for the virtual events and ticketing information for Fences, visit ucnj.org/black-history-month. In addition, if you would like to learn more about Black History Month programs, please contact Judith Guest of the Union County Office of Community Engagement and Diversity at Judith.Guest@ucnj.org or 908-527-4388.
For information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including free vaccination, free testing, emergency food distribution and other support services, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.
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