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Celebrate Black History Month in Union County with Poetry and Music by Langston and Beethoven

In celebration of Black History Month 2023, the Union County Board of County Commissioners is pleased to present Langston & Beethoven: Black & Proud, a free evening of poetry and music exploring the life and times of the poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist Langston Hughes featuring WQXR Radio host Terrance McKnight on Tuesday, January 31, at 7:00 p.m. at the Union County Performing Arts Center, 1601 Irving Street in Rahway.

The annual Chester Holmes Humanitarian Award will also be presented at the event.

Langston & Beethoven: Black & Proud is free of charge but seats must be reserved in advance. To reserve online visit ucnj.org/black-history-month.

“We are very proud to welcome Mr. McKnight back to Union County, to celebrate the beginning of Black History Month 2023 with our community. Langston & Beethoven: Black & Proud is an enlightening, enriching experience that reminds us of Union County’s deep connections to the great cultural movements of our past, and informs our understanding of the present,” said Union County Commissioner Chairman Sergio Granados.

“Black History Month is a time for rediscovering the literary voices of our nation’s past and refreshing our knowledge of the intricate cultural connections that informed their work. We thank Mr. McKnight for shining a new light on both Langston Hughes and Ludwig van Beethoven,” said Commissioner James E. Baker, Jr.

“Langston Hughes is an important voice in the cultural and social history of the Union County community, having lived in Westfield in the 1930’s,” said Commissioner Dr. Angela Garretson.Mr. McKnight provides a unique musical perspective on the creative threads that intertwine music and poetry from different eras, and we encourage everyone to come and enjoy this very special presentation.”

 “Mr. McKnight provides an enriching experience that brings us closer to the deep cultural significance of Langston Hughes’s work, and it is a real honor to bring him to Union County in celebration of Black History Month,” said Commissioner Rebecca L. Williams.

Langston & Beethoven: Black & Proud was created by Mr. McKnight, who is the speaker and narrator for the performance. He has paired the poems of Langston Hughes with music by Beethoven, two commanding talents separated by a hundred years’ time and vastly different worlds. Each found inspiration and the spark of creativity in the universality of the other’s art form. The evening will also include works by other composers.

Joining Mr. McKnight on stage forLangston & Beethoven: Black & Proud are pianist Kyle Walker, oboist David Norville and vocalist Chauncy Packer.

Mr. McKnight regularly curates concerts and talks at Merkin Concert Hall, the Billie Holiday Theatre, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Museum of Modern Art. He is also the creator of A Langston Hughes Song Revival.

This will be Mr. McKnight’s fourth time returning to Union County to present high quality programming for Black History Month. A full orchestra version of Langston & Beethoven: Black & Proud will be presented at Lincoln Center in New York City in February.

This program is made possible by funds from the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, a partner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

For more information about Langston & Beethoven: Black & Proud and other activities and programs of the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, visit ucnj.org/cultural, email culturalinfo@ucnj.org, or call 908-558-2550.

For information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including free vaccination, free testing 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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For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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