By Stuart Mitchner

My only problem with “Black History Month” is in the way “history” implicitly detracts from the ongoing immediacy of the African American experience. “Lives” in my title can be read both as a reference to the lives of people and to the force that lives in the present, which happens when we listen to Charlie Parker or Billie Holiday, read James Baldwin or Frederick Douglass, admire a painting by Jacob Lawrence or a photograph by Gordon Parks, or go online to watch First Lady Michelle Obama’s stirring speech at the 2016 Democratic Convention.

The good news is that millions of people have been reading Obama’s memoir, Becoming (Crown $32.50), and David W. Blight’s Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (Simon and Schuster $37.50).

Blight’s landmark biography begins with President Barack Obama’s September 24, 2016 dedication speech at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, in which he delivered “a clear-eyed view” of the “tragic and triumphant” experience of “black Americans in the United States.” After referring to “the infinite depths of Shakespeare and scripture” in black history, Obama paid tribute to “the fight for our freedom … a lifetime of struggle and progress and enlightenment … etched in Frederick Douglass’s mighty leonine gaze.” more

Presidential Power and the Constitution

By Donald Gilpin

No question is more crucial to the state of our nation, and no question is more dominant in the news media, than the question of presidential power. Who makes the decisions that determine the fate of our country, its people, and so many others around the world? 

We pride ourselves on our democratic government, with power vested in the people themselves. From the time of the American Revolution and the founding of the United States of America, the country has rejected the idea of a king or an imperial president. “The power under the Constitution will always be in the people,” George Washington wrote in a letter to his nephew. The notion of a monarch or a dictator in the White House continues to be anathema to most Americans.

Over the centuries since the drafting of the Constitution in 1787, however, the power of the executive branch has steadily grown, even though checks and balances and the separation of powers among the three branches of government (executive, legislative, judicial) are fundamental to our system of government and to the essence of our exceptionality as a nation.  more

By Taylor Smith 

CAP Beauty is an unusual beauty store. 

Beyond makeup, lotions, and potions, CAP Beauty prides itself on holistic beauty with the philosophy that what you put into and onto your body can actually improve the quality of your thought and life.  more

By Taylor Smith 

The Museum of Modern Art recently announced that it will open its expanded campus on October 21, 2019, with a reimagined presentation of modern art. more

By Taylor Smith 

With a wide array of fitness trackers available, Fitbit is probably the best-known name in terms of high-quality trackers. The user-friendly devices come in many style options and can suit everyone, no matter their fitness level. The trackers will monitor everything from basic daily movements to running, walking, swimming, cycling workouts, and sleeping.  more

Photo Credit: Rhode Island School of Design 

By Taylor Smith 

Want to develop your creative craft or pen that novel that’s been living inside you? Do you have a passion for painting, drawing, sculpture, or film? Are you considering a teaching career in the arts? We’ve rounded up top Master of Fine Arts programs in the Northeast that can add an extra spark to your resume and potentially help you to make that career change or land the job you’ve been dreaming about.  more

Mutcherson will serve as Rutgers Law co-dean in Camden and will work collaboratively with fellow co-dean David Lopez at Rutgers in Newark

Rutgers University–Camden recently announced the appointment of Kimberly Mutcherson, a well-known bioethics and health law scholar, as co-dean of the Rutgers Law School in Camden.

With her appointment in early 2019, Mutcherson became the first woman, the first African American, and the first LGBT law dean at Rutgers University. more

Why schools like NJIT are on the cutting-edge

By Taylor Smith

Governor Phil Murphy recently announced two initiatives — the STEM Loan Forgiveness Program and the NJ Career Accelerator Internship Program — to encourage individuals in STEM fields to make a long-term commitment to build and maintain a career within New Jersey. The initiatives were part of the Governor’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget message. more

By Taylor Smith

Opening in late February 2019 at 2222 Hwy. 33 in Hamilton, Spoony Sweets (www.spoonysweets.com) will be the first cereal bar in New Jersey. more

225 acres of fields and woods in the shadow of the Sourland Mountains 

By Taylor Smith 

Rambling Pines has been serving Central New Jersey and Bucks County-area children with summer fun since 1976. Tuition includes endless daytime activities, lunch, ice cream, snacks, and door-to-door bus service for the following communities: Princeton, Plainsboro, South Brunswick, West Windsor, Robbinsville, Hamilton, Lawrenceville, Montgomery, Skillman, Belle Mead, Hillsborough, Hopewell, Pennington, Branchburg, Lambertville, Flemington, New Hope, Washington Crossing, and Yardley.  more

Spin your way to better fitness and feel like a rock star

By Taylor Smith

Indoor cycling has long been an appealing option for those looking for all the benefits of vigorous cardio and strength routines without the high-impact aftermath that can come from pounding miles on the pavement, such as in distance running activities. Enter CycleBar, the latest concierge-style indoor cycling studio to make waves in the Garden State. more

At only 2.4 square miles, the borough of Chatham, New Jersey, is highly walkable and suggestive of a less-hurried time

By Taylor Smith

The quality of Chatham’s public school district, which serves both the borough and Chatham Township, both in Morris County, is frequently mentioned by new residents and real estate agents as a draw to the area. more

By Taylor Smith 

With locations in Basking Ridge, Chester, Ocean Township, and Shrewsbury, Dean’s Natural Food Market is making an impact on the quality of food and produce available to New Jersey residents. 

At Dean’s, all produce is 100 percent organic. “With our non-GMO policy, we don’t bring in any items unless they’re non-GMO product verified or free of the top 10 GMO crops. People know that about us now, they’re coming here for that,” says founder Dean Nelson.  more

By Taylor Smith

The Monmouth Museum (http://monmouthmuseum.org) in Lincroft, N.J., has announced that its board of trustees has appointed Donna R. Kessinger of Atlantic Highlands to be the Museum’s next executive director.

Kessinger comes to the Museum from ChaShaMa, International Center of Photography, and MoMA PS1, bringing with her a connection to the artist community that thrives along the New York and New Jersey corridor. She has a Bachelor of Fine Art from Kent State University, and a Masters in Arts Administration from the University of Kentucky. Kessinger has produced several independent curatorial projects in New York and New Jersey since 1999, including those at the Guggenheim Museum and the emerging artists residency programs and related exhibitions at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. more

The Jersey Shore’s original acai shop now has more than 50 locations nationwide

By Taylor Smith

With multiple locations in Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex, Morris, Union, and Essex counties, Playa Bowls (https://playabowls.com) is now a big part of the New Jersey food scene.

If you’ve visited towns like Belmar, Red Bank, Asbury Park, Seaside, or Toms River during the summer months, chances are you’ve known about Playa Bowls for a long time. What originally started out as a food truck is now a popular staple in New York City, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, with 20 more locations planned in the near future. more

Urban Conveniences in a Small-Town Setting

By Taylor Smith

Located in Northern New Jersey’s Union County, Westfield has earned increasing attention in recent years, not only for its convenient public transportation to Manhattan, but also as a place that many New York City transplants call home. more

By Taylor Smith

The quality and design principles that have made Stance socks a favorite of NBA players are now backed by some of the leading names in sports and entertainment. With the philosophy of embracing “the uncommon thread,” this five-year-old company has sold more than 50 million pairs of socks. Using technology that is akin to rocket science (literally), Stance Socks is hoping to define the future of knitwear. more

By Taylor Smith

Available at running stores and REI locations across the country, Bend, Oregon-based Picky Bars is the latest nutritional bar to make a splash on the outdoors scene. more

By Taylor Smith

On view through February 10, “Mickey: The True Original Exhibition” is at 60 10th Avenue in New York City. The 16,000-square-foot space in Chelsea, very close to The High Line, features both nostalgic and modern works from international artists, all of whom are inspired by classic images of the graphic, black-and-white mouse. more