Tag Archives: African American History

African American Men in White NY Civil War Units


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An obituary from 1865 led me to investigate the life of Ira T. Brum, who enlisted in the 185th New York Volunteers in June 1864. The regiment was full of young men from Onondaga and Cortland, and some few from elsewhere in the state. Company F contained mostly men from Cortland who enlisted together that spring.

The 185th participated in the siege of Petersburg and was part of the Appomattox Campaign, fighting at Quaker Road, Gravelly Run, Five Forks and at Appomattox Court House. There, on April 9th, 1865 members of the 185th saw the “white flag come out and was glad to see it.” First Lieutenant Hiram Clark of Marathon gathered his men and sang “Hail Columbia.” As the men settled against a fence, a shell came over and killed Clark, the “last man killed in the army of the Potomac.” Continue reading

New Yorkers and the Memory of the Civil War


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As New York’s State Historian, I often say that New Yorkers have long provided the country with some of its most informed leadership. Why? Because they understand and appreciate their state’s place in American history.

Take as a case in point the 100th anniversary of the American Civil War (1961-65). This was a time when some Americans were using their heritage to defy federal desegregation efforts. New York’s Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, however, used his state’s history for a far better purpose. He promoted civil rights and racial equality in America by joining with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others in celebration of the 100th birthday of a document owned by the New York State Library—Lincoln’s draft Emancipation Proclamation. Continue reading

State Museum Exhibits Burns Archives Photos


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A new exhibition – Shadow and Substance: African American Images from The Burns Archive – has opened at the New York State Museum, showcasing rarely-seen photographs from one of the largest private photography collections in the world.

Open through March 31, 2012 in the Photography Gallery, the exhibition allows the viewer to perceive how African-Americans were seen by others and how they wished to be seen. These images do not tell a complete story of the past, but their eloquent shadows provide unique glimpses into the lives of African-Americans over the past 160 years.

The 113 images in Shadow and Substance include portraits, snapshots and photographs of celebration, tragedy and quiet joy, work and family, strength and perseverance. From early images of slaves and Civil War soldiers to new voters and political activists, the exhibition is filled with illustrations of achievement and shocking evidence of intolerance. Some images may not be suitable for young children.

The images were culled from the comprehensive Burns Archive of Historic Vintage Photographs that include specializations in medical and health care, death and dying, sports and recreation, in addition to images of African-Americans. The collection was amassed by Dr. Stanley B. Burns, an ophthalmologist, collector and curator in New York City who was the founding donor for several photography collections, including those of the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Burns has authored several books including “A Morning’s Work: Medical Photographs from the Burns Archive & Collection, 1843-1939”; “Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America” and “Forgotten Marriage: The Painted Tintype and Decorative Frame, 1860-1910.”

The traveling exhibition is organized by the Indiana State Museum and curated by Dr. Modupe Labode, assistant professor of history and public scholar of African-American History and Museum Studies at Indiana University.

The State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is free. Further information about programs and events can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

Sernett and Humphreys Team for Abolition Lyceum


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Milton C. Sernett PhD has asked Hugh C. Humphreys to join the presentation of the Abolition Lyceum IV: Slavery, Law, and Politics for the annual National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) event Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 10:30 a.m. in Golden Auditorium at Colgate University, Hamilton NY. This lecture is fourth in a series of five lectures chronicling the history of American abolition from the Colonial Period to the Civil War which Dr. Sernett has delivered each year.

Humphreys and Sernett team up to examine the intersection of politics in the debates over American slavery and abolition. They will explore the legal and political aspects of the debate over slavery by highlighting watershed events such as the Missouri Compromise of 1820, the Amistad Incident, the Great Fugitive Slave Convention held in Cazenovia in 1850, the political debate over the Compromise of 1850 and the struggles that took place in the Kansas Territory over the issue of “popular sovereignty” and slavery. Other topics of interest will be efforts of abolitionists to organize political parties and the rise of Lincoln and the Republican Party. Humphreys and Sernett will also be talking about the debates over the Constitution, the emergence of political abolitionism, and the role played by significant figures such as Gerrit Smith, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and Abraham Lincoln. Humphreys will discuss the Dred Scott Case where the fate of Scott and his family went all the way to the Supreme Court. Several video clips will be shown.

Milton C. Sernett is Professor Emeritus of African American Studies and History, having taught at Syracuse University for thirty years. He has spoken widely on abolitionism, the Underground Railroad, and Harriet Tubman. His books include North Star Country: Upstate New York and the Crusade for African American Freedom; Abolition’s Axe: Beriah Green, Oneida Institute and the Black Freedom Struggle; and Harriet Tubman: Myth, Memory, & History. Sernett is a founder and a member of the Cabinet of Freedom of the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hugh C. Humphreys is a retired Madison County judge and currently teaches a course on abolition law at Syracuse University. Humphreys researched and published Heritage #19 on the Great Cazenovia Convention for the Madison County Historical Society. Humphreys is a founder and a member of the Cabinet of Freedom for the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum. He has generously shared his oratory, painting, and theatre talents with Peterboro heritage projects for two decades.

The Abolition Lyceum IV Slavery, Law, and Politics is twelve dollars at the door, or free with the Total Day Package for the annual NAHOF event. For more information and registration: www.AbolitionHoF.org, info@abolitionhof.org, 315-366-8101

This illustrated lyceum presentation will draw on images and text from the traveling exhibit panel “The Politics of Slavery and Abolition” that is part of the traveling exhibit of the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum. All eight panels of the exhibit will be shown for the first time following the Lyceum.

The Traveling Abolition Museum will officially open to the public at 11:30 a.m. in the Clark Room in the James C. Colgate Building at Colgate University. Dr. Sernett created the text and assembled the visuals for the traveling “walls” to chronicle American abolition in a similar way that Sernett’s lyceum series has done. Scott Hughes managed the fabrication and the installations. The mobile museum has been made possible by generous donations from the American International College, Norman K. Dann and Dorothy Willsey-Dann, The Gorman Foundation, Ellen Percy Kraly, the New York Business Development Corporation, Dr. Milton C. Sernett and Janet M. Sernett, Maryann M. Winters, and the Upstate Institute at Colgate University. The public is encouraged to attend the free exhibit.

John Brown Lives! Concert Promotes Cultural Exchange


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On Wednesday, July 20, 2011, John Brown Lives! (JBL!) is presenting “desert blues” musician, Bombino, live and in concert, at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. for a 7:30 p.m. performance. Omara “Bombino” Moctar is a young Tuareg singer from Niger, Africa, on his first North American tour. He has received advance praise as a “guitar wizard” likened to Jimi Hendrix (KCRW), who plays “some of the most sublime guitar licks you’ll hear in 2011” (NPR).

The concert is an outgrowth of JBL!’s Dreaming of Timbuctoo Exhibition detailing a black settlement effort in the Adirondacks in the mid-1800s. It is also inaugurates the Timbuktu Sahara * Timbuctoo Adirondack Project, a cultural exchange initiative John Brown Lives! is developing to link schoolchildren and communities in the Adirondacks with a Tuareg village on the outskirts of Timbuktu, Mali. A share of proceeds from this concert will benefit the Scarab School in the desert village of Tinghassane.

The Tuareg, often called the “Blue Men of the Desert” by outsiders, are a nomadic people descended from the Berbers of North Africa. In his short life, Bombino, and many Tuareg, have endured drought, rebellion, tyranny, and exile. Fusing traditional rhythms of nomadic peoples of the Sahara and the Sahel with the drive of rock and roll and songs about peace, Bombino plays an influential role today in educating the Tuareg about the importance of the fragile democracy in Niger while maintaining their rich cultural heritage.

John Brown Lives! (JBL) is a freedom education project founded in 1999 to promote social justice through the exploration of issues, social movements and events, rooted mainly in Adirondack history, and their connection to today’s struggles for human rights.

Individual tickets are $18 in advance or $20 at the door. Children under 12 are admitted for $5. Sponsor tickets are also available at $160 for a book of 10 tickets. Tickets are available at the LPCA Box Office 518-523-2512. For sponsor tickets, please call 518-962-4758 or 518-576-9755.

For more general information, contact John Brown Lives! at mswan@capital.net or 518-962-4758. To learn more about Bombino and the Tuareg, check out these links (1, 2).

‘Dreaming of Timbuctoo’ Showing in Essex County


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The “Dreaming of Timbuctoo” Exhibition will be on view at the Whallonsburg Grange Hall in the Champlain Valley from July 3-9. The Grange is located on Route 22, five miles south of the village of Essex, NY.

When it premiered at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake in 2001, “Dreaming of Timbuctoo” revealed the little-known antebellum history involving black homesteaders granted land in the Adirondacks in the mid-1840s—a step toward winning the vote for free black New Yorkers.

Through this abolitionist “scheme of justice and benevolence”, 3,000 African American men from nearly every county in the state each received 40 acres of land. John and Mary Brown moved to the Adirondacks in 1848 to be a friend and neighbor to those who settled their land. One of the loosely knit communities came to be called “Timbuctoo”.

Through letters, documents, archival photographs, and curator Amy Godine’s illuminating text, the exhibition explores the backdrop and motivations of some of the country’s most illustrious anti-slavery leaders involved, including philanthropist Gerrit Smith, the Rev. Henry Highland Garnet of Troy, Frederick Douglass, Syracuse’s Rev. Jermaine Loguen, and Dr. James McCune Smith of New York City.

As the nation marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, the Whallonsburg Grange Hall and John Brown Lives! host the exhibition and several educational and cultural events that examine the political war on slavery, discuss its place in North Country history, and its relationship to civil rights issues.

The exhibition opens on Sunday 3 July at 3:00 p.m. and a reception and talk by the curator will follow at 6:00 p.m. Suggested donation is $7. Regular hours from Monday-Saturday, July 4-9, are from 12 noon to 6:00 p.m. and admission is free.

Other upcoming programs at the Grange include:

Wednesday, July 7 at 7:00 p.m.: The Struggle for the Right to Vote, Past and Present, with historians and civil rights activists Dr. Laura Free, criminologist Alice Green, and Paul Murray, Mississippi volunteer in the 1960s. Excerpts from the new film marking the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders will be shown. Admission $5; students free.

Thursday, July 7 at 7:00 p.m. Transgressing the Blue Line: Toward an Inclusive Adirondack Narrative with environmental philosopher Marianne Patinelli-Dubay. Admission $5; students free.

Saturday, July 9 at 8:00 p.m. Magpie in Concert, featuring the gorgeous harmonies, brilliant musicianship, and inspiring songs of the folk duo, Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino. Admission $7; children under 12 admitted for $3.

Related programs at Heaven Hill Farm will involved a trek into the archaeological dig underway at one of the “Timbuctoo” homesteads under the direction of Dr. Hadley Kruczek-Aaron, SUNY-Potsdam Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Timbuctoo Archaeology Project. The dig is near the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in North Elba. Reservations for both Heaven Hill events are necessary and can be made at mswan@capital.net or 518-962-4758.

Thursday, July 7, from 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., educators, artists, parents and community members engage in a roundtable conversation to shape a Timbuctoo Adirondacks-Timbuktu Sahara friendship connection. A representative from a Tuoareg community school on outskirts of the Malian city of Tiimbuktu will be present.

Sunday, July 10, from 3:00-6:00 p.m., a visit to the dig site of the Timbuctoo Archaeology Project and reception afterward. $20 per person would be appreciated.

“Dreaming of Timbuctoo” is a joint project of John Brown Lives! and the Essex County Historical Society. Funding from the New York Council for the Humanities and the New York Council on the Arts were principal funders of the exhibition. The Arts Council of the Northern Adirondacks is providing support for the concert with Magpie.

For more information, go to www.thegrangehall.org or contact Martha Swan, Director of John Brown Lives! at mswan@capital.net or 518-962-4758, or Mary-Nell Bockman at Whallonsburg Grange Hall, Marynell@mac.com or 518-570-2382.

Photo: Black Farmers in North Elba (Courtesy Adirondack Museum).

Peterboro: Harriet Tubman, Maggie Fox Lectures


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The New York Council for the Humanities Speakers in the Humanities Program will provide two free presentations for the 2011 Peterboro Heritage Summer Programs.

On Sunday, July 17 at 2 p.m. at the Smithfield Community Center (5255 Pleasant Valley Road in Peterboro) the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum will host Harriet Tubman: Myth, Memory, and History presented by Milton C. Sernett Ph.D. Syracuse University professor emeritus. Then, on Sunday, July 24 at 2 p.m. the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark (4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro) will host Nancy Rubin Stuart and her program Maggie Fox, Victorian America’s Reluctant Spiritualist.

Milton C. Sernett’s illustrated talk tells the story of how a black woman, once enslaved but self-liberated, became the dominant symbol of the Underground Railroad and an inspiration today for American of diverse backgrounds and reform interests. The audience will hear of the exciting findings of the latest research regarding Tubman the historical person, and of the many ways in which her life has been celebrated by writers, artists, and other creative spirits. Dr. Sernett has completed a book on the interplay of myth, memory and history during the years when Tubman was being canonized as an American saint.

On Sunday, July 24, in a talk accompanied by slides, Stuart will describe the Fox Sisters’ rise to national fame as communicators with spirits, the prominent people that followed Spiritualism in the 19th Century, and the history of young and beautiful Maggie Fox after she gave up her mediumship. Rubin will illustrate how 150 years ago the Fox sisters’ introduction of spirit communication swept through American and why it continues to fascinate people today.

These programs are free and open to the public. More information can be found online, by e-mailing mail@sca-peterboro.org or calling 315-280-8828.

The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum are open from 1 – 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from May 14 to October 23 in 2011. Admission to each site is two dollars. Stewards and students are free. For more information: Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro NY 13134, National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY 13134.

Launched in 1983, the Speakers in the Humanities program brings the best in humanities scholarship to thousands of people at hundreds of cultural organizations in virtually every corner of New York. Speakers in the Humanities lectures are made possible with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the New York State Legislature, and through funds from the Gladys Krieble Delm.

Cost of Freedom: Cayuga County and the Civil War


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In recognition of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, the Cayuga Museum will present The Cost of Freedom: Cayuga County and the Civil War. The secession of the southern states and outbreak of the Civil War in 1860-61 was the culmination of decades of disagreement over issues of slavery, trade and tariffs, and the doctrine of State’s rights. Over the next four years, communities in Cayuga County contributed their time, resources, and even their lives to preserve the Union and create a new freedom in the United States, one which reshaped the constitution and forever changed the way we define liberty, patriotism and the nation.

The Cost of Freedom explores the Civil War as experienced by citizens of Cayuga County, both on the front lines and at home. This exhibit will feature the Museum’s unique Civil War collection including the hand illustrated maps of General John S. Clark and letters written by various soldiers from throughout the county. The exhibit will profile local men and women vital to the war effort and reconstruction including Emily Howland and William Wise, one of the first African American soldiers in the Country. Additionally The Cost of Freedom will highlight the contributions of those on the home front from the Ladies Union Aid Society to the construction of The Home. The exhibit will open to the public May 14 and run through September 4, 2011.

In partnership with this exhibit the Museum has planned a series of lectures about the Civil War. On July 10, Robert W. Arnold III, will present “Let Loose the Dogs of War, New York in the American Civil War.” On August 21, Dr. Laura Free will present “Bullets, Belles, and Bloated Bodies: The Civil War in American Popular Culture and Memory.” Other events will be announced through the summer.

Photo:A reunion of Cayuga County Civil War veterans. Courtesy Cayuga Museum.

Database: NY’s Black Loyalist Refugees


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Black Loyalist is a repository of historical data about the African American loyalist refugees who left New York between April and November 1783 and whose names are recorded in the Book of Negroes. In this first stage, the site concentrates on providing biographical and demographic information for the largest cohort, about 1000 people from Norfolk Virginia and surrounding counties.

Working on the principal that enslaved African Americans were not just a faceless, nameless, undifferentiated mass, but individuals with complex life experiences, the site seeks to provide as much biographical data as can be found for the individual people who ran away to join the British during the American Revolution and were evacuated as free people in 1783.

The project emerged from the research of Cassandra Pybus for her book Epic Journeys of Freedom: Runaway Slaves of the American Revolution and Their Global Quest for Liberty.

The site was created by Cassandra Pybus, Kit Candlin and Robin Petterd and funded as a pilot project in 2009 by the Australian Research Council.

Illustration: Certificate of freedom, 1783. Courtesy Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management.

New Exhibit: African-American Landscape PainterRobert Duncanson


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On May 1, 2011, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site opens Robert S. Duncanson: The Spiritual Striving of the Freedman’s Son, the first exhibition featuring the work of the nineteenth-century African-American landscape painter Robert S. Duncanson in many years, and, the first exhibition of his work to appear on the east coast, even in his lifetime. The exhibition will bring the work of this Ohio artist to the home of Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School and major influence on Duncanson.

Robert S. Duncanson was the first American landscape painter of African descent to gain international renown and occupies a critical position in the history of art. Widely celebrated for his landscape paintings, Duncanson began his career in the family trades of house painting and carpentry, before teaching himself art by painting portraits, genre scenes, and still-lifes. His success is remarkable as a “free colored person” who descended from generations of mulatto tradesmen, to graduate from skilled trades and participate in the Anglo-American art community.

Duncanson’s turn to landscape as his subject was influenced by Thomas Cole in the late 1840s. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, then the largest and most prosperous city in the western United States, Duncanson became the cornerstone of the Ohio River Valley regional landscape painting school and, according to the Cincinnati Gazette declared that he “enjoyed the enviable reputation of being the best landscape painter in the West.”

Duncanson achieved his artistic success despite the oppressive restrictions that Anglo-American society placed on him as an African-American, a “free colored person.” His paintings earned him international attention with especially high esteem bestowed on him by the art press in Canada and England. Canadians acknowledged Duncanson’s seminal role as “one of the earliest of our professional cultivators of the fine arts.” And, the critics of the London Art Journal praised him as possessing “the skill of a master,” whose paintings “may compete with any of the modern British school.”

Duncanson adopted the style and metaphors of east coast landscape painting that depicted the “natural paradise” of the New World as a romantic symbol for the European settlers’ perceived covenant with God. But in so doing he also appropriated the art of landscape painting–both in subject and content–for African-American culture. In some of his paintings he subtly expressed the perspective of an African-American through his works.

A careful reading of his landscapes, reveals how Duncanson expressed his particular perspective. The grandson of a freedman, Duncanson’s artistic ambitions and the content of his paintings epitomize W.E.B. Du Bois’ statement that “the spiritual striving of the freedmen’s son is the travail of souls.”

Robert S. Duncanson: The Spiritual Striving of the Freeman’s Son is curated by Joseph D. Ketner. Ketner is the Henry and Lois Foster Chair in Contemporary Art and the Distinguished Curator-in-Residence at Emerson College in Boston. He is the author of a definitive book about the artist, The Emergence of the African-American Artist: Robert S. Duncanson 1821-1872. The catalogue for this exhibition will contain an essay by Ketner including new information on the artist and color illustrations of many new paintings discovered over the past fifteen years.

“We are honored to have Joseph Ketner, the authority on this fascinating Hudson River School artist, curate our 8th annual exhibition,” said Elizabeth Jacks, Executive Director of the Thomas Cole Site. “The artist’s work, which can be found in the permanent collections of major museums across the country, stands alone in its beauty. What makes this exhibition even more powerful, however, is the fact that Duncanson achieved his success under the oppressive conditions of being a ‘free colored person’ in antebellum United States.”

Robert S. Duncanson: The Spiritual Striving of the Freeman’s Son is on-view through October 30, 2011.

This exhibition is the 8th annual presentation of 19th Century landscape paintings at the Thomas Cole site, fostering a discussion of the influence of Thomas Cole on American culture through a generation of artists known as the Hudson River School. The Thomas Cole Historic Site is located at 218 Spring Street in Catskill, New York. For information call 518-943-7465 or visit www.thomascole.org.

Illustration: Robert S. Duncanson’s Times Temple, 1854. 34 x 59 inches, Oil on Canvas. Howard University Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

Troy Underground Railroad Conference This Weekend


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The annual Capital District Underground Railroad Conference will be held this weekend in Troy, NY on April 8, 9 and 10th at the Russell Sage Campus in celebration of the conference’s tenth year presenting workshops, music, and stories about the historic struggle to escape slavery.

In the words of the conference founders, Mary Liz and Paul Stewart, the conference activities are, “a fresh interpretation of an Old Story. “ This is the story of the heroic men, women and children who escaped from slavery and who traveled to new, free, lives along the Underground Railroad.

The international conference is titled, “Abolishing Slavery in the Atlantic World: the ‘Underground Railroad’ in the Americas, Africa and Europe, and its relationship with us today.” Several hundred attendees are expected at workshops, art exhibits, and musical events. The conference is organized by the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region, Inc., (URHPCR) co-sponsored by Russell Sage College and the College’s Department of History and Society. Several non-profit groups are collaborating: Rensselaer County Historical Society, Museumwise, and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

On Friday April 8th, 2011 the Opening Address will be given by Dr. Robin Blackburn at 7:00 pm, Bush Memorial, Russell Sage College, Troy, NY, “The International Struggle to End Slavery and the Slave Trade and Its Ramifications Today.” Dr. Blackburn, Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex in England and Visiting Professor of Historical Studies at the New School for Social Research in New York, will describe the international slave trade which fueled the American Colonial economy and he will explore the ramifications for today of the struggle to end slavery. Performing are Kim and Reggie Harris.

Blackburn has taught in England at King’s College, Cambridge University, FLACSO (Latin American Social Science Faculty); in Ecuador, and at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. He has studied and taught at the London School of Economics and Oxford University. He is the author of many books and scholarly articles on historical sociology and critical social theory. Two of his most important books are The Making of New World Slavery: from the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800, and The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 1776-1848. In recent years he has written several influential articles on slavery and resistance. He is the founding editor of The New Left Review and an editor at Verso Books. Blackburn’s Opening Address at the conference will bring a high level of scholarship and an international perspective to discussions about the historical struggle for freedom from slavery in the United States.

The Underground Railroad Conference in Troy is a venue for African American art exhibits, storytelling, history workshops, and programs for educators and people of all ages. A Workshop for Educators on Friday April 8th is followed on Saturday April 9th with speakers, workshops, a raffle, art exhibit, reception and evening award ceremony. Keynote speakers on Saturday are Dr. Franklin Knight, Stulman Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, speaking about slave societies. His talk opens the conference at 9:00 am and is titled, “Of Slavery and Abolitions: Perspectives from the World of Slaves.” After the morning workshops at 1:00 pm Tony Burroughs, internationally known lecturer on genealogy, a guest speaker on many television talk shows, will participate in a panel discussion called, “Heritage Preservation Through Genealogical Research, Song and Storytelling.” Joining him on the panel are singer, MaryNell Morgan and storyteller, Miki Conn. Saturday afternoon workshops conclude at 5:00 pm followed by an evening reception and art exhibit held at the Rensselaer County Historical Society located at 57 Second Street, Troy, NY.

The conference continues on Sunday April 10th at 2:00 pm in Russell Sage College’s Bush Memorial Hall with programs devoted to music and performance. There will be performances by the Hamilton Hill Dancers, Garland Nelson, MaryNell Morgan, Eshu Bumpus, Magpie, Sparky and Rhonda Rucker, Graham and Barbara Dean, the musical group Peter, Paul and George, the Hamilton Hill Dancers, and the Hamilton Hill Drummers.

The conference is possible thanks to leadership from co-founders Mary Liz and Paul Stewart, the contribution of volunteers with the URHPCR, Inc., and conference donors and supporters: M & T Bank, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, Russell Sage College, Kate Storms, The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region’s Standish Family Fund, The Alice Moore Foundation, Museumwise, the Arts Center of the Capital Region, New York Council for the Humanities, Pioneer Bank and Troy Savings Bank Charitable Foundation.

Find conference information and register online at www.ugrworkshop.com. Contact Paul Stewart at (518) 432-4432.

Rochester Honoring African-Am Civil War Soldiers


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Nazareth College is hosting the Rochester-Monroe County Freedom Trail Commission’s seventh annual tribute to the nearly 200,000 men of color and 7,000 white officers that constituted the United States Colored Troops (USCT) (USCT) on Tuesday, April 5, at noon in Nazareth’s Linehan Chapel of the Golisano Academic Center. On Behalf of Those Who Lie in Yonder Hallowed Ground is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Dr. David Anderson at danders8@naz.edu or (585) 389-5140.

The event will include dramatic readings of events that were tearing the nation apart during the Civil War, and will be posed against President Lincoln’s executive order that provided for arming men of color, and the eventual Union victory. Frederick and Anna Douglass, parents of two Union soldiers, will also be honored. Frederick’s advocacy was crucial to the Union’s belated decision to enlist men of color.

These commemorative events result from a collaboration of the Rochester-Monroe County Freedom Trail Commission and Nazareth College Service Learning Center, and support from several community organizations.

Founded in 1924, Nazareth College is located on a close-knit, suburban campus in the dynamic, metropolitan region of Rochester, N.Y. The College offers challenging academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences and professional programs in health and human services, education, and management. Nazareth’s strong cultures of service and community prepare students to be successful professionals and engaged citizens. The College enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduate students and 1,000 graduate students.

Exhibit: Black Patriots at the Battles of Saratoga


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In recognition of Black History Month, Saratoga National Historical Park will offer a temporary exhibit from February 1 through February 28 called “Agrippa Hull – Ordinary Soldier, Extraordinary Man” and on Sunday, February 13 at 1:30pm in the visitor center, Ranger Eric Schnitzer will present a special program about black soldiers at Saratoga.

In the American Revolution, about 5 percent of the Continental Soldiers were of African descent. They fought shoulder to shoulder with white soldiers—but an integrated army would not occur again until the Korean War. That’s just scratching the surface of the information to be presented by Park Ranger Eric Schnitzer as he discusses evidence from memoirs, journals, muster rolls, and pay lists that documents
the roles of free and enslaved African Americans who fought in “the most important battle of the last 1000 years.”

Agrippa Hull, a black Revolutionary War soldier who served in the 1777 Battles of Saratoga, is the focus of a special exhibit titled “Agrippa Hull: ordinary soldier, extraordinary man.” Copies of Hull’s 1777 company muster roll, pension claims, portrait, and photographs of him and his wife Peggy will be on display in the visitor center in February.

Saratoga National Historical Park is located between Rt. 4 and Rt. 32 in the Town of Stillwater, NY. For more information, please contact the visitor center by calling 518-664-9821 ext. 224 or check their website.

Illustration: Portrait of Agrippa Hull, a freeborn black man and Revolutionary War veteran who lived in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The portrait hangs in the historical room of the town library. Hull was 85 years old when his image was captured. Painted in oil in 1848 by an unknown artist, the portrait is a copy of a daguerreotype done by Anson Clark in 1844. Image courtesy Stockbridge Library Association Historical Collection.

Life of Fugitive Slave Lavinia Bell to be Presented


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One hundred and fifty years ago, few knew about Lavinia Bell, a fugitive from slavery who trekked from a Texas plantation to Rouses Point, New York, in search of freedom in Canada. Now, for the first time, her experiences will be presented to the public in “Never Give Up: The Story of Lavinia Bell,” reenacted by Melissa Waddy-Thibodeaux at Plattsburgh State University’s Krinovitz Recital Hall. The presentation will begin at 7:00 PM on February 11, 2011. The event is free and open to the public.

Ms. Thibodeaux’s visit to Plattsburgh in February will be her first to the North Country. She has already earned national acclaim for her sensitive depictions of Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks. The North Country location of the premiere of Mrs. Bell’s story, in the region where her vision was at last realized, is as fitting as are the sponsoring organizations: the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association, Plattsburgh State University, and Clinton Community College.

Ms. Thibodeaux will also offer performance workshops for university and college students during her stay in Plattsburgh. On February 12, she will cross into Canada
where, under the sponsorship of the Negro Community Center in Montreal, she will
introduce Mrs. Bell to a waiting audience.

To see Ms. Thibodeaux portray Harriet Tubman visit You Tube.

To learn more about this event, contact Don Papson at NCUGRHA@aol.com or
(518) 561-0277.

Exhibit: African American Women’s Literary Societies


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“They Kept Their Word: African American Women’s Literary Societies and Their Legacy” is a fascinating new exhibit that has opened at the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society. The exhibit traces the development and influence of African Americans in Buffalo, particularly with regard to women’s efforts to improve their economic and intellectual conditions.

The remarkable growth and accomplishments that took place in the Buffalo area during the 1830s and 1840s were due to many factors, including expansion of communication through transportation, newspapers, pamphlets, study groups, and lecture series.


Photo: Mary Church Terrell was an influential African American woman in Buffalo in the 1900s. Photo provided.

Black History Month at Brooklyn Museum


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The Brooklyn Museum’s First Saturday attracts thousands of visitors to free programs of art and entertainment each month. The February 5 event celebrates Black History Month and the contributions of African Americans during the thirties, forties, and fifties with programs inspired by the exhibition Lorna Simpson: Gathered.

Throughout the evening, a cash bar will offer beer and wine, and the Museum Café will serve a wide variety of sandwiches, salads, and beverages. The Museum Shop will remain open until 11 p.m.

Some Target First Saturday programs have limited space available and are ticketed on a first-come, first-served basis. Programs are subject to change without notice. Museum admission is free after 5 p.m. Museum galleries are open until 11 p.m. Parking is a flat rate of $4 from 5 to 11 p.m.

Highlights include:

5-7 p.m. Music
The Fat Cat Big Band plays bebop and swing.

5:30 p.m. Film
The Great Debaters (Denzel Washington, 2007, 126 min., PG-13). True story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College in Texas who inspired students to form the school’s first debate team in the segregated South of 1935. Writer Trey Ellis introduces the film and leads a discussion following the screening. Free tickets are available at the Visitor Center at 5 p.m.

6-7 p.m. Discussion
Writer Kalia Brooks on Lorna Simpson: Gathered.

6:30-8:30 p.m. Hands-On Art
Create a triptych portrait inspired by the work of Lorna Simpson. Free timed tickets are available at the Visitor Center at 5:30 p.m.

7 p.m. Curator Talk
Sharon Matt Atkins, Curator of Exhibitions, on Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera. Free tickets are available at the Visitor Center at 6 p.m.

7-8 p.m. Interactive Project
Bring your photos to contribute to a collaborative artwork on African American history.

8 p.m. Young Voices Talk
Student Guides on American Identities: A New Look.

8-10 p.m. Dance Party
DJ Stormin’ Norman, resident DJ of Harlem’s Sundae Sermon, hosts a hip-hop and soul dance party highlighting African American contributions to music.

9-10 p.m. Artist Talk
Hank Willis Thomas discusses his installation Unbranded and issues of race and class in magazine advertisements.

9-10 p.m. Performance
The Small’s Jazz Club All-Stars play big-band music of the thirties, forties, and fifties.

Photo: Fat Cat Big Band. Photo Courtesy of the Artist.

Brooklyn Museum to Open Lorna Simpson Photography Exhibition


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Brooklyn-based artist and photographer Lorna Simpson will have a solo exhibition at Brooklyn Museum. Lorna Simpson: Gathered presents photographic and other works that explore the artist’s interest in the interplay between fact and fiction, identity, and history. Through works that incorporate hundreds of original and found vintage photographs of African Americans that she collected from eBay and flea markets, Simpson undermines the assumption that archival materials are objective documents of history. The exhibition will be open to the public January 28 through August 21, 2011.

The exhibition also includes examples of Simpson’s series of installations of black-and-white photo-booth portraits of African Americans from the Jim Crow era and a new film work.

Lorna Simpson: Gathered is organized by Catherine Morris, Curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum.

Photo: Lorna Simpson (American, b. 1960). 1957-2009 Interiors (detail), 2009. Gelatin silver print. 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches each (14 x 14 cm); overall dimensions variable. © Lorna Simpson, 2009; courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York

New York Anti-Slavery Conference


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In farm fields, artisan workshops, private homes, and brothels then; in fields and orchards, restaurants, factories, private homes and sex-oriented businesses, now—American and foreign-born women, men and children are trafficked and enslaved across New York State.

As the Syracuse Post Standard recently reported, it is as close as the New York State Fair held every summer. According to the Post Standard, a restaurant vendor from Queens was charged earlier this month with allegedly trafficking workers from Mexico to work at the Fair, mistreating and barely paying them, if at all.

“We have both the past and the present to reckon with,” said Martha Swan, Director of the freedom education project John Brown Lives! “Although largely erased from official history and collective memory, New York “promoted, prolonged and profited from” slavery from the 1620s through the 1850s. It continues today, often hidden in plain sight.

“We have organized a two-day Anti-Slavery Convention to put slavery “on the map” as a reality not solely of the South but of New York; and not as a relic but a legacy and crime against humanity still with us today.”

The Convention will be held in Lake Placid, NY, on December 3-4, 2010 and will feature experts on contemporary slavery and human trafficking, scholars, historians, victims advocates, lawyers, artists, and musicians joining with the general public to examine slavery and trafficking in New York State and ways to end it.

The Convention will include a full-day workshop for educators, teaching artists, and librarians at Heaven Hill Farm on Friday, December 3. Advance registration and a $55 fee are required. Call 518-962-4758 to register.

Later that evening at Lake Placid Center for the Arts, Dr. J.W. Wiley from SUNY Plattsburgh’s Center for Diversity, Pluralism & Inclusion will show film clips and lead a lively conversation on how film has shaped American’s perceptions of slavery and race. The event, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m., is free and open to the public.

From 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 4, the Convention will continue at High Peaks Resort on Main Street in Lake Placid with keynote addresses and panel discussions ranging from historical slavery in New York State to up-to-the-minute reports and analysis on slavery and trafficking today.

Dr. Thomas Hopkins, descendent of Harpers Ferry Raider John A. Copeland, will help bring the Convention to a close with a candlelight wreath-laying ceremony at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site at 5:00 p.m..

Partners in the Convention with John Brown Lives! are John Brown Coming Home, the National Abolition Hall of Fame, SUNY Plattsburgh’s Center for Diversity, Pluralism & Inclusion, and the New York State Archives Partnership Trust.

The Anti-Slavery Convention is funded, in part, with support from the New York Council for the Humanities. For more information or a full schedule of events, call 518-962-4758 or go to www.johnbrowncominghome.org.

Slavery in New York, Slavery Today Event


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Teachers, librarians, local historians and teaching artists are invited to explore slavery in New York State, historically and today, with guest scholars, curriculum specialists, and front-line investigative reporters on Friday, December 3, 2010, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Heaven Hill Farm, on Bear Cub Road in Lake Placid, New York.

This conversation on slavery and human trafficking in the Empire State, will include special guests:

Margaret Washington, Professor of History at Cornell University and award-winning author of Sojourner Truth’s America, a groundbreaking biography examining the harsh realities of Dutch New York slavery that helped forge one of the nation’s greatest and most widely admired reformers.

John Bowe, prize-winning journalist and author of Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the Global Economy, an eye-opening look at labor abuse and cases of outright slavery in the U.S. today.

Cost: $55 per person includes a box lunch, lesson plans, and other resource materials. Reduced rates are available at $100 for 2 people or $150 for 3 people per institution. Books and other teaching tools will be available for purchase.

SLAVERY IN NEW YORK? SLAVERY TODAY? is part of the Anti-Slavery Convention in the Adirondacks on December 3-5, 2010 and is a joint program of John Brown Lives! and Center for Diversity, Pluralism & Inclusion at SUNY Plattsburgh.

For information and to pre-register contact Martha Swan (518-962-4758 mswan@capital.net) or Lindsay Pontius (518-962-8672 pontiusequus@aol.com).