The scenes spanned generations—from Nat Turner’s slave revolt in 1831 and the tumult in Newark and Detroit 50 years ago to Los Angeles in 1992. They were followed by remarks from renowned Newark scholars and longtime married couple, Junius Williams and Antoinette Ellis-Williams.

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Antoinette Ellis-Williams

During the ’67 uprising, Junius Williams was a second-year law student at Yale and an activist and civil rights organizer in Newark. “From the rebellion came a new sense of identity, a new sense of power, a new sense of organizing,” said Williams, noting community input in configuring a site for the state medical school in the Central Ward and the election of the city’s first black mayor.

The talk and performances launched The Rodney M. Gilbert Memorial Salon & Lecture Series, named for a longtime Drew theatre professor and arts leader in Newark. Previously, the series was known as the EOS Theatre Salon. Alumnus Andrew Binger C’13 helped organize the event, which was presented by the Educational Opportunity Scholars ProgramDepartment of Theatre and Dance and Drew Freedom School Initiative.

Cristina Martinez directed the performances, which were also inspired by Gilbert, who died in November. “I started this because of Rodney. He was my mentor from the beginning,” said Martinez, C’19, a theatre arts major from Los Angeles. “I felt it was my time to step up. So, I stepped up.”