Showing posts with label evelyn knight. Show all posts
Showing posts with label evelyn knight. Show all posts

Friday, February 20, 2015

Preview Exhibition - BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way

(Past Preview Mini Exhibit held February 7-8, 2015)

(Cover Photo by Carolyn Smiths Watts, Shoreline Village, Published in Tuttle Cameras One Camera Project, 
Exhibited at the Historical Society of Long Beach; Other photos on this page by Sunny Nash)

(Standing left to right): Evelyn Knight marched with Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery; Patricia Lofland, first black member of Long Beach City College Board of Trustees; Bobbie Smith, first black LB woman elected to public office and has a school named for her; Alta Cooke, first black high school principal; Carrie Bryant, city’s first black private school operator; Vera Mulkey, the City’s first black Chief of Staff; Wilma Powell, the nation’s first female Chief Wharfinger; Doris Topsy-Elvord, first African American Long Beach Harbor Commissioner & first black female LB Vice Mayor; (Seated left to right): Autrilla Scott, city’s first black LB citizen with street named for her; Maycie Herrington, recipient of a Congressional Gold Medal; Dale Clinton’s letter to President Johnson is archived at the Library of Congress; and (not present): Lillie Mae Wesley, neighborhood parent for 30 years with LB Parks & Recreation. 

EXPO Arts Center
Bixby Knolls
Long Beach
Adoring crowds from across the Southern California filled the EXPO Arts Center Saturday and Sunday, February 7-8, 2015, for a BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way Exhibition Preview for the Andy Street Community Association's Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

Living Legend, Evelyn Knight (left)
Eleanor Schmidt, Former Executive Director
Long Beach Public Library 
Evelyn Knight marched with Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery; Dale Clinton’s letter to President Johnson is archived at the Library of Congress. Wilma Powell was the first U.S. female Chief Wharfinger; Doris Topsy-Elvord, first black female Vice Mayor; Autrilla Scott, city’s first black citizen with a street named for her; Patricia Lofland, first black member of Long Beach City College Board of Trustees; Vera Mulkey, the city’s first black chief of staff; Alta Cooke, first black high school principal; Bobbie Smith, first black woman elected to public office and has a school named for her; Carrie Bryant, city’s first black private school operator; Maycie Herrington, recipient of a Congressional Gold Medal. Lillie Mae Wesley, neighborhood parent for 30 years through Parks & Recreation.

Exhibition Preview Visitor
"Time for education was a sacrifice these women made," said Nash, editor of the collection of historical profiles, BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way. "Although nothing is guaranteed in this life, education is a necessary part of preparing for a successful future. Study, one solid method of giving a dream a fair chance to become a reality, grooms a person for the inevitable competition of those who may have the same dream.” 

The full BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way Exhibition, sponsored by Leadership Long Beach, will open Tuesday, September 29, 2015, at the Atrium Center & Theater in the Long Beach Public Library off of City Hall Public Plaza. This extensive display of portraiture, historic photographic reproductions, artifacts, documents and memorabilia will cover three decades of achievement by these Long Beach women.

Portraiture Captured Imagination

Interactive Educational  Component
Popular with Visitors



Map Wall a Point of Interest

Memorabilia Quite an Attraction



Living Legend, Dale Clinton
& Children

Living Legend, Vera Mulkey
& Children

Living Legend, Wilma Powell

Living Legends
Bobbie Smith & Alta Cooke

Photojournalist and author, Sunny Nash, and Long Beach humanitarian, Carolyn Smith Watts are the co-curators of BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way, about 12 African American women, who made a difference in the cultural history of Long Beach. Their pioneering project began with a book of historical profiles, collection of artifacts, documentary film and website in 2007. 

BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way blossomed into an exhibition of historic photographic restorations, document reproductions, artifacts, and ancestral papers when Nash won a Professional Artist Fellowship from the Arts Council for Long Beach and the City of Long Beach to design the museum catalog and reproduce photographic restorations and documents.

“These 12 women have collectively contributed 711 years of experience to Long Beach,” Watts said. “In the past fifty years, they have mothered hundreds children, some of whom were their own and others were neighborhood children who needed love and support. Yes, of course, there are other women in our city with thousands of stories and each one invaluable.” 

“One lesson young people can learn from these 12 incredible women is to be dedicated to their dreams and be willing to make certain sacrifices to nurture their dreams,” Nash said.

Project Consultant, Peter Bostic 
Working with Carolyn Smith Watts
On Interactive Educational Component
Carolyn Smith Watts and Peter Bostic, project consultant, work on the preview map wall and interactive educational component. The map wall plots the journeys of the 12 women from their places of birth to Long Beach. 

The interactive educational component challenges preview visitors to plot their journeys and the journeys of their ancestors to Long Beach. The locations leading to Long Beach were varied, ranging from Calgary, Canada, to Puerto Rico, Hawaii, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, St. Louis, the Gulf Coast, Mexico, the Rockies, the Pacific Northwest, the Pacific Islands, Australia, Africa and parts of Europe.

BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way is more than an exhibition. It is a total historical  experience.

Preview Sponsors

Leadership Long Beach

Arts Council for Long Beach

City of Long Beach

Long Beach Public Library

Historical Society of Long Beach

Robin D. Perry & Associates

Chick-fil-A - Town Center

Andy Street Community Association

EXPO Arts Center

Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association

Content © Copyright 2015 BREAKING THROuGH  Lighting the WayAll Rights Reserved Worldwide.

~Thank You~

Breaking Through Lighting the Way
Breaking Through Lighting the Way
Breaking Through Lighting the Way

Monday, August 25, 2014

Evelyn Knight Remembers Jim Crow Signs

African American Women Fleeing Jim Crow South Sought Refuge in Long Beach, California.

Evelyn Knight, one woman in the study, BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way
Evelyn Knight
Born: Africa Town, Alabama
Evelyn Knight, one Legend in the study, BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery because she saw the national news coverage and could not be deterred by friends and family from the significant stance against Jim Crow in Alabama where she had been born and raised. So, she took a leave from her job, packed a bag and boarded a bus headed for Alabama. 

Evelyn was born in African Town, Alabama. She is the descendant of a long line of protesters. Now, that is another story you will be fascinated to learn. And you can learn her story directly from her when the BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way Exhibition has its Grand Opening on September 29, 2015. Keep watch, here, for the details as the date approaches. 

"In 1965, I was looking at television one afternoon and I saw the brutality being heaped upon my people in my home state of Alabama. I knew what it was like because I had experienced the racism. Later, Martin Luther King pleaded for anyone around the country to come down and help to protest the dastardly acts in Alabama," Knight said, repeating King's words, "Please come and help us." And she was compelled to go and help.

Evelyn is back from the 50th anniversary Selma march. She went for the original march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., after hearing his call to action. "Alabama is where I was born," she said. "I had to go then. And I had to go back!" Hats off the Evelyn, a living Long Beach Legend. 

Bloody Sunday Selma to Montgomery, Alabama
Bloody Sunday
Selma to Montgomery, Alabama
BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way will allow audiences of all ages and races to learn from these women and to experience through primary accounts what life in America was about in the days of Jim Crow, and the struggles of African Americans and, particularly, African American women. 

Evelyn Knight and many of the other women in the study, BREAKING THROUGH lighting the Way, upon their arrivals in Long Beach, had left behind them the signs that most dressed them.

Segregated Women's Restroom Sign  Deep South into the 1960s
Segregated Women's Restroom Sign 
Deep South into the 1960s
"The signs were not posted, but as a black person, you knew where you were not welcome," one black woman reported about her early experience in Long Beach into the 1960s. "The signs were on the faces of those around you or serving you in a restaurant."

But remember, white southern Jim Crow enthusiasts had also migrated to California during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl seeking opportunities a,d, regardless of their poverty, brought racism with them and perpetuated oppression of people of color. 

The Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 set up protections for certain populations against Jim Crow housing. 

Deep South Housing Restrictions, 1960s
Deep South Housing Restrictions, 1960s
Black women relate their own experiences with racial conditions in the Deep South states of their births and former southern homes, as well as Long Beach, where many fled in hopes of finding better racial treatment. In many instances, better conditions were to be found. However, there was racial strife even in Southern California, including lack of employment opportunities, segregated housing, deeded restrictions, inferior schools and other Jim Crow treatment. 

"There were no signs saying where you could go or where you couldn't go like in the south," one woman said. "But you learned pretty quickly how rental housing went. And then if you wanted to buy a house, your choices were limited to certain neighborhoods because of deed restrictions. White homeowners were legally restricted from selling their homes to buyers who were not white. It took an act of Congress to change all that, even in Long Beach" 

Segregated Laundry
"It was common to be ignored when others were being served," one woman said. "Some services were reserved for white customers when sometimes the services were being delivered by black workers. There were signs in some businesses saying your business is not welcome here or if there wasn't a sign saying you can't come in, the poor service made you not want to come back."

"It did not matter how well you dressed you were or how nice your shoes matched your suit," one woman said.


Edited by Sunny Nash
Foreword by Carolyn Smith Watts

Bobbie SmithAlta Cooke, Carrie Bryant
Dale Clinton & Lillie Mae Wesley (not present) 
"If you were colored, that's what they called us back then, you were not going to be considered for professional positions. No matter how smart you were or how much education you had back then, you would not be hired to sit in an office to greet the general public. And it took a long time for that to change."

Racism existed in Long Beach and Southern California.

Employment opportunities, college education and equal housing required changes in racial attitudes and these black women helped to bring about those changes in Long Beach. 

"For many years after laws were written," one woman said. "Employers had their ways of getting around them." homepage

© 2014 BREAKING THROUGH  Lighting the Way. 
All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
~Thank You~

Breaking Through Lighting the Way
Breaking Through Lighting the Way