By Susan Shinn
For the first time, Rowan Museum is hosting an exhibit on Black History Month.
“African American Legacy” opens Sunday at Rowan Museum, 202 N. Main St., with a reception from 1-4 p.m. The exhibit will continue through mid-May. Exhibit sponsor is Dr. Christopher McIltrot.
The exhibit’s committee is comprised of Raemi Evans, Susan Wallace, Terry Holt and Betty Dan Spencer, along with curator Mary Jane Fowler.
Evans, a new board member, helped put out the word that the museum was looking for items from everyday life for the exhibit.
This will be the museum’s first exhibit solely dedicated to artifacts from the black community.
“Our black history artifacts are integrated into our other exhibits,” explains Kaye Brown Hirst, the museum’s executive director.
Evans’ grandfather was James Aggrey, also known as Aggrey of Africa. Several of his items, including a silk kente cloth robe and a ceremonial Ghahan stool, are on display.
Charles and Blanche Sherrill have loaned office items from Charles’ father, Richard. Charles Sherrill is the grandson of J.C. Price.
Organizers hope that this inaugural exhibit will be the first of an annual series each February during Black History Month.
In 2009, early black churches are slated to be highlighted.
In the current exhibit, two cameras from black photographer M.H. Perkins are on display.
Greta W. Connor brought a tri-fold posterboard presentation on “Strong Builders of History,” which includes photographs and newspaper clippings of local prominent black citizens.
There’s a bird carved from a cow horn made by John Nicholson. Nicholson, who taught science at Price High School, was active in Boy Scouts for many years.
A Philco radio from the 1940s looks like you could turn it on and listen to it. Fowler points out that it has a built-in antenna. It belonged to Shirley Johnson’s grandfather.
Kitchen implements and a wedding ring quilt are on display, on loan from the Hawkins-Stout families.
A log cabin quilt is on loan from Janet Shannon, a retired Davidson College professor, which was made by a member of her family.
Ezra Gilliam kept a clock from the Monroe Street school, that’s still set to the hour school let out the last day: 3:25.
A hat rack came from the Randall Barber Shop.
Portraits of the Hawkins brothers, Frank and James, hang above the fireplace. The photographs, enhanced with charcoal, were taken around 1900, Fowler estimates.
A toy baby carriage dating from 1900 belonged to Josephine Price Sherrill, the daughter of Livingstone College’s founding president.
Eliza Miller, who retired from Livingstone in 1985, brought several items which belonged to her aunt, Essie Donohue.
Miller’s aunt raised her, and Miller brought her aunt’s white and pink gown from 1915, as well as a photograph of her.
Miller’s husband Howard was a minister in the AME Zion church, and his Bible from 1927 will be shown.
Miller’s aunt was friends with Booker T. Washington, and a 1901 edition of “Booker T. Washington’s Own Story of His Life and Work” is part of the exhibit.
“I wouldn’t part with this book for anything,” Miller says.
Evans contacted the three local black sororities about the effort.
“I couldn’t ask for any better cooperation,” she says. “People like Mrs. Miller, I could depend on. This is just the beginning.”
For more information about “African American Legacy,” call Rowan Museum at 704-633-5946.
Contact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or email@example.com.
By Susan Shinn