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March 5th, 2014

A New Exhibit Opens at the Historical Society

A New Exhibit titled “African American Entrepreneurs 1800-Present” honors the contributions of men and women to our local economy despite America’s legacy of discrimination.

A New Exhibit titled "African American Entrepreneurs 1800-Present" opens at the Historical Society of the Nyacks on Saturday, March 8.

This exhibit honors the contributions of men and women - living and deceased - to our local economy despite America’s legacy of discrimination.

The following individuals are featured on display panels that include photos and text: The late Cynthia Hesdra (business and property owner), the late Hezekiah Easter Sr. (owner, Easter’s Wood Yard), the late Walter Blount Sr. (tailor), the late Charles and James Glass (owner’s Chic & Charlie’s Tavern), the late Sir Hildred Humphries (musician), the late Frances A. Batson, (first African American Deputy Clerk, Village of Nyack), Dr. Willie Bryant (dentist, civic leader), Alice and Alicia Crowe (attorneys),Karim Deen (art and antiques dealer), the late Dr. Fletcher Johnson (surgeon), and Sam Waymon (musician).

This exhibition represents the beginning of three-year community-based history initiative called the "Nyack African American History Documentation Project." The project is a collaboration among students and faculty of St. Thomas Aquinas College, the Historical Society of the Nyacks, and the Nyack Library to discover, survey, record and ultimately place under archival care materials that reflect the history of African Americans in the Nyacks and the surrounding areas of Rockland County.

According to the exhibit’s curator, Historical Society of the Nyack’s trustee Bill Batson:

"There is an element of urgency to this project. The materials that we are seeking, mostly papers and photographs, are underrepresented in public collections. And until they are preserved, the documents are vulnerable to loss and decay. There is a literal race against time to secure the history of an African American community that has previously been isolated and marginalized by law and custom.

Some of the documents in this exhibit were loaned from private family collections and have never been shared with the public. Until a truly representative collection of the documentary materials of the people who have called the Nyacks their home has been archived and cataloged, it is difficult to understand how our diverse, creative and compassionate community came into existence. "

Bill Batson illustrates and writes a weekly column on called Nyack Sketch Log. He also edits the weekly column Local Arts Index. Currently, Batson serves as the first artist-in-residence at the Nyack Farmer’s Market. In August , 2013, he received County Executive Arts Award. His work can be seen at

There will be an opening reception on Sat., March 8th, from 1-4pm at the Historical Society of the Nyacks, located in the lower level of the Depew House, 50 Piermont Ave. at the corner of Piermont and Hudson Avenues across from Memorial Park. The exhibit is free to the public and on display every Saturday from 1-4p until July 5, 2014.

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