A Different Way

1619 Project Lands on Roosevelt Island

The 1619 Project, an ambitious effort to better reflect the African-American experience in American history, lands on Roosevelt Island. It’s the theme for this year’s Black History Month exhibit at Gallery RIVAA.

1619 Mission Statement.

By David Stone

Beginning last August, Lorraine Williams focused on the 1619 Project as a theme for Roosevelt Island’s 2020 Black History Month Exhibit. Williams curates the art, each year, but this was different.

Williams got support from RIOC as well as Gallery RIVAA in making this year a teaching session. Surrounded by art.

Battling a cold, Lorraine Williams welcomed visitors with a keynote on the 1619 Project theme.

Fixing history is the goal of the 1619 Project. For Africans kidnapped and brought to America as slaves, American history did not start in 1776. The nearly 250 year fight for freedom started when they landed on the other side of the Atlantic.

Williams set the story straight, taking her cue from a New York Times initiative launched in August, conceived by writer Nikole Hannah-Jones.

The 1619 Project’s Art

A collage by Albert Depas, AMEC 3, elegantly summed up 170 years of American History, keeping the African experience in focus.
Sir Shadow’s Jazz 1, 2, 3 & 4 celebrates America’s original musical invention.
RIOC helped Williams pull together the 1619 Project exhibit for Roosevelt Island. Liaisons Erica Spencer-EL (L) and Jessica Murray (R) joined by PSD Chief Kevin Brown.

Adding to the visual arts, performers brought music, dance and poetry for the evening. Singer Beatrice Ajaero’s Black National Anthem hushed the gallery.

RIOC president Susan Rosenthal at the 1619 Project event.
Adding to the story, RIOC president Susan Rosenthal reflected on the “still marginalized” aspect of the theme. The fight for freedom and equality is as much now as then.
For art lovers, Albert Nichols’s Lounge 2 is among the works on display.

1619 Project Still Marginalized, a joint effort by RIOC and RIVAA runs until March 1st. The gallery at 527 Main Street, Roosevelt Island is fresh and alive with pictures that stay with you.

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