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"They Kept Their Word": An Exhibit on Historical African American Women's Literary Societies | Arts & Culture

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"They Kept Their Word": An Exhibit on Historical African American Women's Literary Societies
"They Kept Their Word": An Exhibit on Historical African American Women's Literary Societies

The Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society presents an exhibit delving into the rich and influential history of African American Women’s Literary Societies in the Buffalo region. “They Kept Their Word: African American Women's Literary Societies and Their Legacy” opens with a reception on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011 at 2 p.m.

This opening reception coincides with a Martin Luther King program at the Historical Society, sponsored by the Afro American Historical Association of the Niagara Frontier, which will take place at 3 p.m. on the same day. ("African Americans, the Civil War & Martin Luther King's Legacy" is the theme of the MLK program; speaker Harry Matthews Bradshaw will offer a talk on the subject.)

The exhibit, curated by Debra Johnson of the Harriet Tubman Retreat/Memorial Library Project with assistance from retired BECP librarian and local storyteller Sharon Holley, explores the increase and influence of the African American population in Buffalo, particularly with regard to women’s efforts to improve their economic and intellectual conditions. The remarkable growth and accomplishments that took place locally during the 1830s and 1840s were due to many factors, including expansion of communication through transportation, newspapers, pamphlets, study groups, and lecture series.

Shaping the story locally were women like Elizabeth Malvin and Ida B. Wells Barnett. And African American women’s organizations were influential as well: inspired by the 1837 formation of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), Susan Evans, Mary Burnett Talbert and Mrs. Charles H. Banks founded the Buffalo Phyllis Wheatley Club, in 1899.

One hundred years later, in 1999, Barbara A. Seals Nevergold, Ph.D., and Peggy Brooks-Bertram, Dr. P.H., Ph.D., founded the Uncrowned Queens Institute for Research and Education on Women. The exhibit features a timeline and images showing highlights of this remarkable legacy.  “They Kept Their Word” will be on exhibit through March 27, 2011.

WHAT: “The Kept Their Word: African American Women’s Literary Societies and their Legacy”

WHEN: Community reception, free and open to the public, Sunday, January 16, 2 p.m.

WHERE: Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society, 25 Notthingham Court, corner of Elmwood Ave., Buffalo

INFO: www.buffalohistory.org, (716) 873-9644 x319

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