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Starr Center for the

Study of the American Experience

Chestertown First Friday Event: Stories of Local African Americans, A Gallery Opening at RiverArts

Date: 5:00pm EST February 7, 2014

An exhibition of oral histories and photographs by Washington College students 

Opening on Friday, February 7, 2014
RiverArts Studio Gallery, 315 High Street,
Suite 106, Chestertown, MD(410) 778-6300 - Reception 5-8 p.m.

RiverArts, in collaboration with the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, is proud to present Stories of Local African Americans, an exhibition of oral histories and photographs by Washington College students. Also on exhibit are video clips and photographs from a Rock Hall Watermen oral history project led by Tom McHugh and Ron Fithian. Curated by Lani Seikaly, the exhibition will open at RiverArts Studio Gallery on First Friday, February 7 with a reception from 5 to 8:00. The exhibition will remain on view for the month of February. 

Washington College students, Erin Cooper ‘14, Samantha Gross ‘14 and Michael Derege ‘14 spent last summer learning firsthand about Kent County’s complex and unwritten Civil Rights-era history through a series of interviews with African Americans in Kent County.  Led by Starr Center Special Projects Manager Nona Martin and Oral History Program Manager, Michael Buckley, the students recorded the stories of eleven local African Americans who lived in Chestertown during the Civil Rights era. Included in the exhibition are stories told by Airlee Johnson, Mary Walker, William Pickrum, Chris Walker, Irene Moore, Eliose Johnson, Clyde Freeman, Wesley Commodore, Martha Wright, Armond Fletcher and Larry Wilson.  Interviewer Samantha Gross shared, “This project is great because texts and facts can only tell you so much about history.” Visit the StoryQuest Civil Rights blog here, and read a feature story about the project here.
The second oral history project featured is “Working the Rock Hall Waters: The Golden Years.” Tom McHugh and Ron Fithian initiated the project and have interviewed over 15 Rock Hall watermen about their experiences. A number of African American watermen were interviewed including Otto Johnson, Tyrone Hawkins, Leroy Rochester, Pudding Beck, and Allen Johnson.  Helping to facilitate the interviews were Clarence Hawkins and Milford Murray. A video clip prepared by Walter Bowie, the videographer for the project, will be part of the exhibit.