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The Romus Broadway Summer Photography Experience
By Rev. Gregory Smith
“Faces are the ledgers of our experience”
In the summer of 2022, Jennifer Garçon, Librarian for Modern and Contemporary Special Collections at Princeton University, gave a riveting lecture at a Joint Effort Program on how photography is such an important part of preserving history. So inspiring was her talk that several lifelong friends and I gathered to discuss the idea of developing a summer photography camp in honor of Romus Broadway.
The camp committee members included The Honorable Lance Liverman, Iona Harding, Shirley Satterfield, and Charlie Phox. They began holding meetings to figure out how this goal could be achieved. We also discussed how the faces of our historical community are rapidly disappearing. The Witherspoon-Jackson Community was at one time a robust community of African Americans, Italians, and other immigrants who worked and lived together and shared goals to better humanity. Although change is inevitable and necessary, the team recognized how our past can often give us insight into how to best live our future.
Romus Broadway, local photographer and historian
Photo Credit: Charles Phox
Romus Broadway was one of the few local historians who offered a global perspective of the lives of African Americans in the Witherspoon-Jackson Community during the 1940-2000 era. His self-made exhibits offered a glimpse into the lives of the individuals who cultivated our community during that time. Those of remaining today are forever inspired by the characters depicted in those photographs. We see them, and, thus, we see ourselves. By teaching our young people to photographically capture remaining remnants of our neighborhood fabric, we hope to inspire future generations to continue creating and preserving the history of this community.
Following further discussion, the committee proposed to offer a two week summer training camp for students (between the ages of 14-17) taking place June 19-30th, 2023. The two proposed photography instructors, Ryshawn Cooper and Asha Weal, descendants of the community, grasped and expanded the concept in a wonderful way. With their direct involvement in the curriculum planning, the students will be exposed to and instructed on the basics of photography while learning the history of the Witherspoon-Jackson community. Students will gain photography expertise and more importantly, learn the value of taking photos as a commemorative chronicle of our life experience. At the end of the camp, students who successfully complete the program will receive a professional Digital camera that will further carry forward their learning experience.
Their work will also be displayed and will add to the chronologically rich heritage of our great community. Students would meet from 9-12 daily over the two week period. The morning sessions will be followed by an afternoon of independent study, comprising extended classes by university curators or engagement in assignments to be presented the following day. Students will be taught photography fundamentals by a combination of renowned and local photographers. At the same time, they will be assigned historical buildings and sites within the Witherspoon Jackson community to capture in the form of photographic and written research. Students will also be assigned community members to photograph and interview.
This project is an initiative of the Witherspoon Jackson Historical and Cultural Society.
The camp committee is strategically endeavoring to raise $30,000.00 for camp programming. Resources will be used to provide cameras for each student, to provide a modest stipend and daily lunch for the instructors and camp participants, and to assist in marketing and outreach. Princeton University has graciously donated space for the program, and several members of the WJHCS have agreed offer the educational and historical components.
If you have any interest in learning more about the camp or being a sponsor, please contact Rev. Gregory Smith at 609-920-3467. Donations supporting the summer camp can be made through WJHCS on this website (Click Here or the “Donate” button above), or checks can be mailed to:
Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society
190 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ 08542
Please indicate that the donation should be directed toward the summer camp by writing “Summer Camp” in the note or memo field.
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Links to our partner organizations' events pages:
Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church
Historical Society of Princeton
WJHCS Trustees Accomplishments and Honors:
Honoree: Leighton Newlin
Date: January 5, 2022
Elected: Princeton Councilmember
Honoree: Rev. Gregory Smith
Award: Ordination and Installation as Pastor
Date: November 20, 2021
Awarded By: Second Calvary Baptist Church, Hopewell, NJ
Honoree: Shirley Satterfield
Award: Community Engagement Award
Date: November 17, 2021
Awarded By: Princeton University and Pace Center for Civic Engagement
Honoree: Shirley Satterfield
Award: Liz Erickson Impact Award
Date: October 28, 2021
Awarded By: NonProfit Connection
Honoree: Bob Hillier, FAIA
Award: Reginald F. Lewis Community Service Award for Excellence in Business
Date: February 12, 2021
Awarded By: First Baptist Church of Princeton
Honoree: Shirley A. Satterfield
Award: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award
Date: January 16, 2021
Awarded By: New Jersey Education Association (NJEA)
Honoree: Rev. David McAlpin
Award: Recognition Celebration
Date: January 30, 2021
Awarded By: Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church