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Common Grounds Series


Common Grounds is an ongoing series that explores and facilitates civil conversation on race, political beliefs, gender, creed and more, celebrating diversity in Roxbury.  


Presentations since September 2020 have included a virtual workshop Skills for Bridging the Political Divide through Braver Angels, a community panel on women and leadership called How She Leads, and a local panel On Race and Racism: A Roxbury Conversation, and Black History: From Civil War to Black Lives Matter, Allyship and Inclusion, a discussion on the film “Brian Banks” and Black People’s Incarceration, and a LGBTQ+ Living/Personal History Panel. Also as part of Common Grounds, the Library, in partnership with Roxbury Area Chamber of Commerce, has hosted recent programs on generation in the workplace and sustainability.

In producing Common Grounds’ events, the library staff partners with Roxbury Coalition for Social Change and members of the Roxbury community.

Upcoming Common Grounds Events:

Juneteenth Celebration - 6/18/22

Drum. Dance. Lift Every Voice and Sing. Join us as we celebrate Juneteenth. Learn about this federal holiday as we honor the end of slavery in the United States. All are welcome to this free event at the outdoor pavilion at Lincoln-Roosevelt and Franklin Schools.

Register to participate here!

Past Common Grounds Events:

Ad Hoc Book Club: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens - 6/1/22

The Common Grounds Ad Hoc Book Club invited anyone to join in a discussion of Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, creating awareness and engagement on cultural elements outside the mainstream.

Purpose/Objectives of Common Grounds Ad Hoc Book Club: 

  • To introduce new points of view and perspectives that may not be sought or considered otherwise
  • To create awareness and engagement on cultural elements outside of the mainstream
  • To encourage inclusion and discussions regarding advocacy
  • To encourage and support of our public library system and resources

Register to participate here!

LGBTQ+, Gender Identity, and Pronouns 101 - Virtual Program - May 18th, 2022 

What does it mean to be inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community? Panelists offers insight into use of pronouns, gender identity and sexuality terminology, and what respectful inclusivity looks like today.

LGBTQ+ Living/Personal History Panel - 10/20/21

Presented in partnership with the Gay Activist Alliance of Morris County, speakers highlight historical events from 1967 to 2021 as it has applied to their own lives.  Panelists will relate personal histories, to include Manny’s Den Case in the Supreme Court of New Jersey (1967), Same Gender Adoption (1993-94), Marriage Equality (2015), Protection of Transgendered Students (2016), LGBTQ Senior Bill of Rights (2021), and LGBTIQ+ Veterans “Dishonorably Discharged” under Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell granted legal benefits, and more.

“Brian Banks” and Black People’s Incarceration - 7/14/21

Watch the film “Brian Banks’ then join neighbors and TCNJ Associate Professor Leigh-Anne Francis for a film review and deeper conversation on race and prisons in the US.

Allyship and Inclusion: Building a Stronger Roxbury -  6/30/21

Honoring Juneteenth, two community leaders model how to be allies & advocates, supporting anyone oppressed for race or ethnicity. Rev. Alison Miller from Morristown Unitarian Fellowship & Oliver Starnes explore what allyship implies.

Black History: From Civil War to Black Lives Matter - 4/28/21

This lecture connects the dehumanization of Africans during the period of the slave trade/slavery to the processes of dehumanization in the 20th and 21st centuries; presented by Dr. Lillie Edwards, Ph.D., and the post-lecture discussion moderated by Ollie Starnes.

Sustainability, in parternship with the Roxbury Area Chamber of Commerce - 2/17/21

Carol Van den Hende, Climate Reality Leader from MARS in Hackettstown, shares evidence for climate change as well as content based on MARS use of renewables.

Working with Multi Generations - How to Survive and Thrive, in partnership with the Roxbury Area Chamber of Commerce - 1/20/21

For the first time in history, five generations are working side by side in the (virtual) work place.  Each with different skills, attitudes and expectations.  Because of this, business owners and leaders can be challenged to inspire the level of harmony and teamwork needed for businesses to drive growth.  Conversation by Sarah Krom, CPA, Managing Partner at SKC @ Co. CPAs LLC and Jennifer Simone, Team Leader, Vice President for Business and Professional Banking, M & T Bank.

On Race and Racism: A Roxbury Conversation - 12/2/20

Roxbury is celebrated for many things, but not necessarily for its diversity.  Locals explore how Roxbury has shaped them, and offer some good notes for our future.  Moderated by Ollie Starnes; panelists include Radwa Ali, Library Director of Roxbury Public Library; Jakki Cobb,  recent Executive Secretary of the Morris County NAACP, Treasurer for Carette’s Inc., and an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Morristown Area League of Women Voters; Juan Morales, technical training manager for Samsung Electronics; Gehad Moustafa student at Roxbury High School and officer of Equal Rights Advocacy; Kristen Simon activist and board member of the Morristown Chapter of Black Lives Matter; Jade Turner, 2012 alum of Roxbury High School and musical artist.

How She Leads, Virtual Panel on Women and Leadership - 10/21/20

A panel of local women share stories of their challenges and achievements, and the support and/or the opposition resistance they encountered along their journeys.  Moderated by Library Director Radwa Ali.  Panelists include Jakki Cobb,  recent Executive Secretary of the Morris County NAACP, Treasurer for Carette’s Inc., and an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Morristown Area League of Women Voters; Kathy DeFillippo, County Commissioner and county liaison to Human Services; Neha Mehta, works with the Department of Defense as a Primary Explosives and Detonator Team Lead for the Explosives Development Branch, Picatinny Arsenal; Laura Oliynik, stay at home mom of three who is certified in instructional supervision and as an elementary school teacher; Rachel Smith, recent graduate from TCNJ whose activism led her to co-found Roxbury Coalition for Social Change; Diane Williams, Roxbury resident and President/CEO of Jersey Battered Women’s Services.

Skills for Bridging the Political Divide - 9/29/20

Presented by Braver Angels, this workshop helped participants learn and practice skills for having respectful conversations that clarify differences, search for common ground, and affirm the importance of the relationship.