ATLANTIC CITY - A celebration of "The Northside" - a book named for the city's historic black neighborhood - was held in the resort Thursday, a chance to recognize the importance of the neighborhood and honor those responsible for producing a book about the community.
Education, business and government leaders attended the event, held at the All Wars Memorial Building. The event was a chance to listen to the individuals who contributed to the creation of "The Northside, African Americans and the Creation of Atlantic City."
Author Nelson Johnson, book cover artist Tyrone L. Hart and Ralph Hunter of the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey in Newtonville each spoke Thursday, sharing their gratitude and respective stories about the Northside. Also addressing the audience was Braxton Plummer, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City, and John Emge, executive director of United Way of Atlantic County.
Both organizations are receiving a portion of the sales from "The Northside" because Johnson, a Superior Court judge, cannot collect the royalties from the book.
Emge said the donation will be used in a number of ways by his organization - including grants to other agencies, and community services such as substance abuse counseling and unemployment support. He added the evening's event was important for paying tribute to those who helped highlight the significance of blacks in the development of Atlantic City.
"We wanted to look at a way to kick off a big community celebration," Emge said.
Johnson and Hart signed copies of the book, while Hunter arranged a display of pictures that captured the Northside life. Those pictures are featured at the Atlantic City Free Public Library through the end of the month.
"There are so many great African Americans from the Northside, and I like to tell a story through a picture," Hunter said.
Bianca Dennis, an Atlantic City High School senior who is bound for Columbia University and a member of the Boys and Girls Club, read an excerpt from chapter 12 of the book, which focuses on Redenia Gilliam-Mosee, a longtime community activist. As Dennis read, some attendees followed along in their own copies of the book.
Gilliam-Mosee served as vice president of Bally's Atlantic City and led the Boys and Girls Club and Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce.
Johnson said Mosee not only urged him to write "The Northside" following his previous book, "Boardwalk Empire," but called for a celebration after its completion - just like Thursday's event.
"Once I knew what happened in the history of Atlantic City, I knew there needed to be a second book," Johnson said.
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