RED BANK, NJ -A formal application to demolish the home of the great African-American journalist and human rights activist, T. Thomas Fortune, who lived at what is now, 94 Drs.James Parker Blvd from 1901-1908 was filed with the Borough on Tuesday, September 16th. The T. Thomas Fortune Project Committee has appealed to Mayor Menna and Council for a stay against the request. Despite the demolition application, the committee is moving forward with its upcoming fundraiser and other efforts to preserve the home.
"The fundraiser was being planned when we received the word about the demolition application being filed,"said Gilda Rogers, a member of the T. Thomas Fortune Project Committee. "We're addressing the matter and are optimistic in our efforts to save and preserve this National Historic Landmark. Therefore, the fundraiser will still take place and this is all the more reason for the Red Bank community and beyond to get enthusiastically involved."
Looking ahead, the committee is proud to announce that Daniel Weinfeld, author of the soon to be released book, T. Thomas Fortune's: After War Times an African American Childhood in Reconstruction-Era Florida (University of Alabama Press), will be the keynote speaker at the October 24th, 2014, community-wide T. Thomas Fortune Project Fundraiser, which is in honor of his 158th Birthday on October 3rd.
Mr. Weinfeld graduated from Harvard College and is a lawyer in New York City. Mŕ. Weinfeld hopes to have his book available for sale. The fundraiser event will be held at Bates Lodge, 306 Shrewsbury Avenue, Red Bank from 7 p.m to 11:30 p.m., who has graciously donated the facilities to the committee for the fundraiser.
T. Thomas Fortune was a newspaper publisher, who was also the ghostwriter for the great African American leader, Booker T. Washington, as well as the editor of the Negro World, the newspaper owned by Marcus Garvey. While Fortune's name may not be as well known as the aforementioned leaders, he played a critical role in the struggle for equal rights for African Americans during the 19th and 20th Centuries. He has been credited with creating the National Afro-American League, which was the precursor to the NAACP and was dubbed the "Dean of Journalism."
"This event marks an ongoing effort to raise community awareness about the importance of Fortune in the landscape of American history, by treasuring his home that has been designated as a National Historic Landmark, by the National Park Service,"said Mark Fitzsimmons, who is the chair of the Historic Preservation Commission of Red Bank. "We need a philanthropic savior in conjunction with our fundraising efforts to insure that his home is preserved."
The T. Thomas Fortune Project Committee has actively been waging a campaign to involve the community in this herculean effort. This event comes on the heels of the T. Thomas Fortune Symposium that was held this summer at Brookdale Community College. And they've engaged African American churches located on the Westside to come together as a collective to raise funds and rally their congregations. The Red Bank Men's Club Foundation is in partnership with the committee and serves as its non-profit agency.
All donations are payable to
The Red Bank Men's Club Foundation/T. Thomas Fortune Project P.O. Box 2007
Westside Station, Red Bank, N.J. 07701.