Cel­e­brat­ing African Amer­i­can en­trepreneurs of the 50s and 60s

Kent County News - - SOCIAL SCENE -

CHESTERTOWN — Thanks to a Mary­land Tra­di­tions preser­va­tion grant, RiverArts is able to stage an ex­hi­bi­tion to cel­e­brate lo­cal black en­trepreneurs of the 1950s and 1960s.

The show will open Fri­day in RiverArts’ stu­dio gallery.

Ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease, cu­ra­tors Lani Hall Seikaly and Air­lee Ring­gold John­son share the sto­ries of 25 black busi­ness own­ers, their fam­ily, em­ploy­ees and clients of busi­nesses open dur­ing that time through videos, pho­to­graphs and text.

More than 15 black busi­nesses alone were lo­cated on a two-block sec­tion of Can­non Street, which res­i­dents de­scribed as a busy down­town com­merce area dur­ing the day and a bustling place on Fri­day and Satur­day nights.

The iconic Char­lie Graves’ Up­town Club on Calvert Street added to the vi­tal­ity of the time by bring­ing in big name singers in­clud­ing James Brown, Lit­tle Richard, Fats Domino, Patti La­belle, Etta James, Ot­tis Red­ding and Ray Charles to per­form.

Ac­cord­ing to the news re­lease, the ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures sto­ries about thriv­ing black busi­nesses, the fam­i­lies and friends that pa­tron­ized them and the com­pas­sion­ate and re­source­ful en­trepreneurs that cre­ated them.

Glimpses of seg­re­ga­tion and its im­pact are laced through the sto­ries as well as the chal­lenges of tran­si­tion­ing to in­te­gra­tion. Nar­ra­tors share that the clos­ing of the busi­nesses was a loss to the black com­mu­nity that is still felt to­day.

For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.chester­town­river­arts.org call RiverArts at 410-7786300.

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