Gov. Murphy Celebrates Juneteenth at Poetry Reading


Turiya Abdur-Raheem reads one of her poems during a North to Shore Festival event titled 'Songs of Freedom: Poetry Celebrating Juneteenth' at the Noyes Arts Garage on June 19 in Atlantic City.

Atlantic City, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy celebrated Juneteenth on Wednesday with a visit to the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University for a poetry reading.

The event, titled “Songs of Freedom: Poetry Celebrating Juneteenth,” is part of the North to Shore Festival, which Murphy started last year in Atlantic City, Asbury Park and Newark.

Joe Bertolino and Phil Murphy

Stockton University President Joe Bertolino greets New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy at the Noyes Arts Garage  in Atlantic City.

“Gatherings like this, with local talent, that’s really the backbone of this event,” Murphy said. “This (festival) has the potential to live on, grow, and become more significant, more inclusive. But it’s not just poetry, it’s also tackling issues that are real and pervasive.”

Murphy then went on to tell the audience of more than 50 people about a new clemency plan he announced earlier in the day allowing young and nonviolent offenders, along with domestic violence victims and others, to apply for permission to leave prison early. The plan would create a new clemency board to examine individual cases.

“We made a decision about Juneteenth that it’s not just about celebrating and acknowledging the profoundness of this day, it’s also doing something about it and continuing that journey toward racial justice,” the governor said.

The poetry reading is one of several Stockton University is hosting as part of the North to Shore Festival, and Stockton President Joe Bertolino emphasized how important the arts are to South Jersey.

“As an Anchor Institution, Stockton really takes seriously our responsibility to be a good neighbor. In fact, as a public regional institution it’s a moral imperative for Stockton and institutions like Stockton to serve the community in which they reside,” Bertolino said. “My hope is that tonight’s event underscores our commitment not just to the community, not just to the arts, but to the students and the people that we serve.”

noyes arts garage

It was standing room only for 'Songs of Freedom: Poetry Celebrating Juneteenth' at the Noyes Arts Garage as part of the North to Shore Festival.

Bertolino also mentioned as part of that commitment the inaugural Regional Arts and Cultural Summit held at Stockton’s Atlantic City campus in April. He announced the summit will be held each year “moving forward,” and he praised the work of Murphy Writing of Stockton University and the Noyes Arts Garage.

“The arts provide opportunities for community members to express themselves and to foster deeper connections with those around them,” he said. “We know the arts and cultural expression, like tonight’s poetry reading, have the potential to bridge real and imagined divides in our neighborhoods and beyond.”

The reading featured 10 poets sharing their work and explored themes of cultural identity and inherited histories.

Here’s a look at other North to Shore events hosted by Stockton:

“Uncharted” on Thursday, June 20: The Stockton Dance Company will perform “Uncharted” at 6 p.m. at the Noyes Arts Garage, 2200 Fairmount Ave., Atlantic City. The free contemporary dance performance will bring a mixed bill of works from the most promising choreographers in the Stockton dance community of faculty, students and alumni.

AC Street Art on Saturday, June 22: Join the Noyes Museum of Art of Stockton University’s AC Street Artists Paint Out as they breathe creativity onto the vertical panels in Ducktown Park. Setting up their makeshift studios on the street corners of Mississippi and Arctic avenues, these artists opt for the open air as their exhibition space. The live street artists who will participate from noon to 5 p.m. are Gary Lindley, Johnny Dreamawake, Ash Myers and Bob “Nexus” Ortiz.

“Shipwrecked” on Saturday, June 22: The Stockton Dance Company will perform “Shipwrecked,” an evocate dance choreographed by Stockton dance faculty member Caitlin Pittenger and inspired by the poetry of Stockton student Joe Mancini. Recently graduated dancers Abigail Bell, Abbey Butler and Kylie Kolmer, along with sophomore Jackson O’Brien complete the ensemble. The performance is part of the Showcase Stage and Artist Village on the Orange Loop Festival Ground on New York Avenue. The village is free and open from noon to 6 p.m. with the Stockton Dance Company performing at 2:35 p.m.

Music at the Museum with Tony Day on Sunday, June 23: Jazz musician Tony Day and the Across the Globe Music Group will perform a free concert from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Noyes Arts Garage. Light refreshments will be served as you can take a stroll through the art galleries.

-- Story and photos by Mark Melhorn