The Niagara Arts & Cultural Center’s annual opening “Artist of Color” runs from February 10 to March 25. African American Contemporary Artists mixed with the historical legacies of Black Americans born and reared in Niagara Falls prior to the 1920s this year. When everyone is moving forward, the art sheds a fascinating light on what settles a community, town, city, and state. Historical photographs, relics, and rare documents are on display.
Ray Robertson has been Co-Director of the Gallery for 17 years and has curated the Artists of Color Show for 12 years. He has shared his knowledge of the arts with the local community and Western New York. He created his collection of artwork over 40 years as a professional photographer, sculptor, and artist.
On February 10th, the Black Pioneers of Niagara Falls held their annual opening reception. The group was created by families whose ancestors immigrated to Niagara Falls before the 1920s from all over the country and Canada. The Honorable Congressman Edolphus Towns (retired) served for over 40 years, as well as two years as Chairman of the Oversight Committee.
He spoke on his trip to the DC Capital and the importance of Black American culture in Niagara Falls as a previous inhabitant reared in the city. Janice Hunt, daughter of Indiana Martin-Hunt, spoke in memory of her mother, who was reared in Niagara Falls and won the Congressional Medal of Honor. Martin-Hunt was a historical legend of the 6888th who was deployed during WWII to sort over 17 million pieces of mail for US troops, an incident that inspired Tyler Perry’s upcoming Netflix film, Six Triple Eight.
Martin-Hunt has been honored with a post office and a street in Buffalo, New York. Misty Hunt-Garrett will talk in memory of her mother, the late Crystal Boling-Barton, a historian and educator who grew up in Niagara Falls. Boling-Barton left behind one of the most extensive collections of African American books, art, antiquities, and rare papers in Western New York.
She was the first woman and African American educator to lead a vocational high school (McKinley High) in Buffalo, NY, at the age of 35. Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, New York was named in her honor. Dr. Michael Boston, author of “Blacks in Niagara Falls” and Professor at SUNY-Brockport, offered his research on Niagara Falls’ black community, which he has been studying for many years.
The New York State Council on the Arts made the AOC show feasible.