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Art Exhibit Highlights Achievements of Black Women in History

2/26/2007 —

They introduced the Charleston and the cakewalk to American audiences; they wrote stories, poems, and songs; they fought both personal and national battles for freedom; they contributed to fields as varied as art, labor, and medicine, and yet their achievements went virtually unnoticed. Who were these unsung heroes, black women? “Black Women: Achievements Against the Odds,” an exhibition on black women and their contributions to American history, culture, and society, will answer those questions. The exhibit, on permanent display in the hallway outside the Penn State York Conference Center in the Main Classroom Building is free and open to the public.

More than 200 years of history is represented in this set of 20 posters produced by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES). The exhibition will acquaint viewers with black women whose accomplishments have changed our lives. This was the first exhibition the Smithsonian has produced for public sale and Penn State York purchased the set in 1989 as part of the campus’ permanent art collection.

The exhibition is organized around 18 featured women whose portraits have been drawn in carbon pencil by illustrator Nancy Edwards Calder. Calder’s illustrations incorporate scenes from their lives and place them in historical perspective.

Originally researched and developed in 1979 by the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Neighborhood Museum and circulated nationally by SITES, “Black Women: Achievements Against the Odds” was the first serious museum exhibit on this topic. The 120 women selected for this exhibition represent 16 subject areas – religion, military, civil rights, art, sports, education, labor, journalism, entertainment, government and politics, law, music, literature, medicine, business, and science and math.

“Black Women: Achievements Against the Odds” can be viewed Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. - 9 p.m., and Fridays, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. in the area outside the Conference Center in the Main Classroom Building at the campus. For more information, please call 717-771-4128.

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