FREEHOLD – Congressman Chris Smith, R-4th, announced that the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights and Genocide at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft has received a $16,000 grant from The Big Read, a program funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and designed to revitalize the role of reading in American culture.
Through The Big Read, The Holocaust Center has developed unique programming that will provide participants with the opportunity to read, discuss, and celebrate world literature. The bulk of the activities will center around the novel “In the Time of the Butterflies”by Julia Alvarez, which transports readers to the Dominican Republic in the mid-20th century when the country struggled under the brutal dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo.
A work of historical fiction, the novel honors the lives of Patria, Minerva, and María Teresa Mirabal, who became icons of freedom and women’s rights when they were assassinated in the autumn of 1960 for their role in the underground movement against Trujillo’s regime. The murders of the three women inspired many in the Dominican Republic to denounce the regime publicly and marked the beginning of the end for Trujillo’s reign. In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly designated the date of the Mirabal sisters’ deaths, Nov. 25, as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
The Holocaust Center will partner with a variety of agencies on The Big Read events, including New Jersey City University, the Monmouth County Library System, Monmouth County Arts Council (MCAC), Two River Theater Company, Lunch Break, words! Bookstore, Monmouth County Human Relations Commission, 180 Turning Lives Around, and numerous high schools and middle schools from across Monmouth County.
Activities over the nine-month event include film showings, book discussions, speakers, an art exhibit, dramatic programming and more. In addition, the program will provide an opportunity for outreach into the Latino community with Latino music, book discussions and Spanish-language materials.
”As a longtime supporter and advocate on issues of human right and trafficking of women, I am pleased that through this program the Holocaust Center has chosen to shine a light on the tragic abuses against women around the globe,” Smith said. “Though based on events from 50 years ago, the issues raised in the reading are not dissimilar to those happening around the world today where women are deprived education and trafficked as property.”
Freeholder John P. Curley, the Monmouth County liaison to Brookdale, said the grant was an opportunity to promote education and enlightenment.
“The Holocaust Center at Brookdale is truly remarkable and seeks to educate and enlighten our society through their exhibits and programs,” Curley said. “Receiving a grant from The Big Red will allow the Holocaust Center to expand their programming and help spread their important messages.”