United Youth of New Jersey Presents HARLEM RENAISSANCE: ANOTHER BLACK WALL STREET in February

United Youth of New Jersey Presents HARLEM RENAISSANCE: ANOTHER BLACK WALL STREET in February

United Youth of New Jersey (UYNJ) will present "Harlem Renaissance: Another Black Wall Street," the ninth in the nonprofit's series of acclaimed plays detailing pivotal moments in African American history, on Feb. 2 at 3 p.m. at the Ritz Theater located at 1148 E Jersey St. in Elizabeth.

Coming off the success of "Black Wall Street: Reflections of the Sun People" and "A Mother's Cry: The Emmett Till Story," UYNJ's latest production explores how the cultural and intellectual movement redefined black culture in the 1920s and continued empowering African Americans through the civil rights era of the 1960s. By doing so, cofounders Charlotte and Kenny Brown hope the show will provide audience members with new insights into a time period many know only vaguely. At the same time, the Browns want to inspire the African American youth they serve to pursue their own passions.

"The play shows the accomplishments of African Americans, how far we've come and how far we can continue to go," said Charlotte Brown, who cowrote and coproduced "Harlem Renaissance" with her husband Kenny. "In this day and time, a lot of people of color don't have a lot of positivity around them. We want to give them an avenue of hope to show what has been done and what can be done again. Don't be afraid to express the talent that God has blessed you with!"

Malcolm X, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, James Baldwin and Adam Clayton Powell are just a few of the role models whose stories are told in "Harlem Renaissance." But the play is far from a boring history lesson. The era's poetry and speeches come alive through the performers, and the production is filled with toe-tapping music and dance numbers. It even delves into significant moments most people are unaware of, like the founding of the Negro Writers Guild. In fact, getting the chance to shed light on such overlooked milestones was a key reason why the Browns decided to showcase the Harlem Renaissance in the first place.

"When you learn about history, you can't just read the beginning of the book and the end of the book," Kenny Brown said. "You need to read the pages in between and find out what really took place."

While learning, audience members may recognize some of the actors onstage. That is because the Browns have continued their tradition of assembling a cast entirely made up of local community members for "Harlem Renaissance." Additionally, many of the young people in UYNJ's Young Entrepreneurs in Media program will be involved with the soundtrack, recording the play, and several of the nonprofit's children will be part of a learning segment within the show. As Kenny Brown put it, everyone benefits in some way-which is always the goal of UYNJ.

Tickets and sponsorship packages for "Harlem Renaissance: The Next Black Wall Street" are on sale now. Individual tickets are $20 and there is a discounted rate of $15 for Children under 12, Seniors 60 and over, or groups of 15 or more. All proceeds from the show will go towards funding year-round UYNJ programs. For more information on the show and how to buy group tickets or sponsorships, contact Charlotte Brown, 908-943-8116 or 908-220-5279, or at uynj1995@gmail.com. To purchase individual tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/harlem-renaissance-another-black-wall-street-tickets-52262569753?aff=ebdssbdestsearch.

About United Youth of New Jersey

For more than 23 years, UYNJ has provided a safe-haven and a home-away-from-home for local youth from Elizabeth and surrounding areas. Our mission is to provide a living-learning environment that encourages academic and personal development for a diverse community. To achieve this goal, we: Conduct programs that address the whole family; host high-quality learning programs for at-risk youth; and provide them with the motivation and tools needed to succeed in school and in life through afterschool, weekend and summer education and recreation programs. For more information please visit www.unitedyouthofnj.org.

Photo: Courtesy of United Youth of New Jersey

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