NYS Writers Institute honors Black Solidarity Day with two exhibits
The New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany recognizes Black Solidarity Day on Monday, November 2, 2020, with two installations on campus that reflect on our nation’s history of racial injustice.
The Memorial Field for Black Lives, an installation by graphic artist Karen Davidson Seward placed on a grassy field outside Campus Center West, features small placards highlighting the names of 50 unarmed Black men and women who were killed across the country by law enforcement officials and others. Seward created the memorial exhibit in reaction to the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, a young, unarmed Black man in Brunswick Ga. on February 23 who was out jogging and was chased down and shot by two white men who believed he was fleeing a burglary.
At 5 p.m. today (Monday, Nov.2), a brief ceremony will be held at the Memorial Field for Black Lives before the start of the students’ march around campus led by the university’s Black Student Association (ASUBA). The march will proceed into Campus Center West, the site of the “Dreaming of Timbuctoo” historical panel exhibit.
“Dreaming of Timbuctoo” chronicles the work of Gerrit Smith (1797-1874), a wealthy white abolitionist who in the 1840s helped Black New Yorkers gain the right to vote by giving away 40-acre plots of land, creating the community named Timbuctoo in the Adirondacks. In all, Smith gave away 120,000 acres to 3,000 men. The “Timbuctoo” exhibit is provided on loan from the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid.* The exhibit is currently on display through November at the University at Albany Campus Center.
While the campus buildings are closed to visitors due to COVID-19, thousands of UAlbany students will see these installations and reflect on our nation’s ongoing journey for racial justice and a more just society. Those walking on the campus grounds are encouraged to visit the outdoor Memorial Field for Black Lives exhibit.
In October, the Writers Institute co-sponsored with The Center for Law and Justice in Albany The Time for Reckoning: Confronting Systemic Racism, Seeking Justice and Reimagining Society, a month-long series of events addressing the impact of systemic racism on Capital Region communities. Partners included WMHT, the Times Union, the Justice Center of Rensselaer County, All Of Us, Youth FX, and Amnesty International USA. Video presentations are available at www.youtube.com/NYSWritersInstitute
Paul Grondahl (NYS Writers Institute) and Ekow King (UAlbany Office of Intercultural Student Engagement) place signs on the Memorial Field for Black Lives installation at the University at Albany.
The Memorial Field for Black Lives features the names of 50 unarmed Black men and women who were killed across the country by law enforcement officials and others.
Campus faculty and students learn the history of Gerrit Smith, the white abolitionist who in the 1840s helped Black New Yorkers gain the right to vote, as told in the “Dreaming of Timbuctoo” historical panel exhibit in Campus Center West.
* Special thanks to Martha Swan, founder and executive director of the John Brown Lives! organization, who collaborated with Writers Institute Director Paul Grondahl to bring "Timbuctoo" to the University at Albany.
The Memorial Field for Black Lives is a collaboration with UAlbany’s Office of Intercultural Student Engagement, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, ASUBA (Albany State University Black Alliance), the New York State Writers Institute, and the Center for Law and Justice in Albany.