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Monfredo: Black History, Alive and Well in Worcester, Visit Our Library and See

Saturday, February 14, 2015


The Worcester Public Library during the month of February has on display an art exhibit entitled, “Triumph! Black Military Unsung Heroes.” The exhibit is on circuit from Boston and it is showcasing high school art in honor of Black History Month.  At the opening ceremony on February 1st, Stacey Luster, the Worcester Public Schools’ human resource manager and MC of the event stated that this event was part of a national movement across the nation to alert our citizens about Black unsung heroes. The arts for the humanities highlights the role of black heroes in our country.

The exhibit consists of 13 paintings by Boston High School students depicting significant figures in American History.  Ever hear of Susie King Taylor?  She was the first Black Army nurse. She tended to an all Black army troop called the First South Carolina Volunteers, 33 rd Regiment where her husband served for four years during the Civil War.  She was never paid for her work and was the only African American woman to publish a memoir of her wartime experiences.  She was also the first African American to teach openly in a school for former slaves in Georgia.   At this school in Savannah she taught children during the day and adults at night.

Another art work on display is the Buffalo Soldiers. They were originally members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army formed 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. This nickname was given to the “Negro Cavalry” by the Native American tribes that they fought. The term eventually became synonymous with all of the African-American regiments formed that same year.

One of my favorite art works was that of the “Black Patriots of the American Revolution. A black patriot was an African American who remained loyal to the American side during the American Revolutionary War.  Black Patriots includes those 5000 African Americans who fought for the Continental Army during the war.

Have you ever heard of Benjamin Davis?  He is another hero on display for Mr. Davis was an American United States Air Force general and commander of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen. He was the first African – American general officer in the United States Air Force. In 1998 he was advanced to the rank of four-star general by President Bill Clinton.  General Davis flew over sixty missions during World War II escorting bombers on air combat missions over Europe.

Another war hero that caught my eye at the exhibit was “The Tuskegee Airman” drawing. The Tuskegee Airmen is the popular name of a group of African – American military pilots who fought in World War II. The name applies to the navigators, bombardiers, mechanics, instructors, crew chiefs, nurses, cooks and other support personnel for the pilots. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African – American military aviators in the United States Army Forces. During that time, Black Americans in many of our states were still subjected to the Jim Crow laws and the American military was racially segregated, as was much of the federal government. The Tuskegee Airmen were subjected to racial discrimination, both within and outside the army.

This is just a sampling of the many art works and their written history on display. Make the time to visit the Worcester Public Library and learn about our history that wasn’t taught in our schools.   On February 14th at the library at 11:00 a.m. a special event will take place to honor veterans of color serving in the Worcester Police Department, Worcester Fire Department,  the Worcester Public Schools and the VFW Post 312. Other exhibits during the month at the library include Movie Night on February 18 and 25th at 5:30 featuring Blacks in the Military. Then on February 28 at 12:00 p.m. will be the closing ceremony. Highlights include the future focus media co-op  for they will premier its film featuring local Black Veterans’ stories, pictures and testimonials that were gathered during the month long tribute. This film will become part of the Worcester Historical Museum community archives.

In addition, on February 18 and 25th visit the American Antiquarian Society to “Tour and view original artifacts related to Black Veterans from the American Revolution.”

Please make the time to see the many events taking place for it’s a piece of history and a great learning experience for all of our citizens. As Superintendent Boone of the Worcester Public Schools stated at the opening ceremony, “African Americans and Puerto Ricans of African descent gave and continue to serve in the Military to protect America as great American Patriots!  Black History is American History.”


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