February 15, 2012
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Opening of Capitol Exhibit Honoring Prominent African-American New Yorkers in Recognition of Black History Month

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the opening of a new Capitol exhibit honoring prominent African-American New Yorkers in recognition of Black History Month.


Governor Cuomo opened the exhibit with former Governor David Paterson and former Comptroller H. Carl McCall, two of the twenty-nine New Yorkers who are profiled. Conveying the 400 year history of the state's African-American community, the exhibit tells the stories of prominent New Yorkers who were chosen for their significant contribution to the state's heritage.


"As we celebrate Black History Month, it is important that the next generation of New Yorkers learn about the struggles, fights, triumphs, and achievements of the African-American community," Governor Cuomo said. "We have profiled a number of extraordinary individuals in our exhibit, and it is my hope and expectation that New Yorkers who visit the State Capitol will come away with a greater understanding and appreciation for our state's history and the incredible contributions that have been made by these men and women."


David Paterson, New York's first African-American Governor, said, "I am proud to be here with Governor Cuomo to pay tribute to the men and women of New York who struggled against oppression and discrimination, which generations of African-Americans experienced. To be one of the people honored in this exhibit is humbling. As Governor, I was committed to making our State a model for equal opportunity and civil rights, an effort that Governor Cuomo is clearly continuing. I want to thank the Governor for this honor and the time he has taken to recognize all of these pillars of the black community."


H. Carl McCall, New York's first African-American statewide elected official, said, "It is an honor to have been singled out for recognition along with individuals such as Jackie Robinson, Frederick Douglas, and Shirley Chisholm, and I thank Governor Cuomo. The most important thing we can do as leaders is to educate our fellow New Yorkers, and this exhibit is a poignant example of that principle. From the founding of this state to slavery to abolition to the modern civil rights movement, everyone who visits this exhibit will come away with a greater understanding of New York's history and the important roles that African-American men and women have played in shaping it."


Dr. Robert L. Harris, Jr., Chair of the Africana Research Center at Cornell University, "This exhibit is as much about the State of New York as the New Yorkers being highlighted. Through the stories we are telling, attendees of this exhibit can plot the trajectory of civil rights accomplishments in our state, from the historical fight against slavery and segregation to contemporary struggles for racial justice. While one can see the strides that we have made over the last 400 years, we must continue to remove remaining roadblocks that impede true progress. This project shows Governor Cuomo's dedication to sharing our state's history and it has been an honor working with him and his administration on this important project."


The Black History Month exhibit is part of an ongoing effort to highlight New York's history at the Capitol, which began earlier this year with the restoration of the Hall of Governors and museum-quality display of many of the state's archival treasures.


The individuals featured in the exhibit include:

  • Frederick Douglass, Abolitionist and early civil rights leader
  • Harriet Tubman, Abolitionist and early civil rights leader
  • W.E.B. DuBois, Early civil rights leader
  • Mary Talbert, Early civil rights leader
  • Sojourner Truth, Abolitionist and early civil rights leader
  • Langston Hughes, Author
  • James Baldwin, Author
  • Toni Morrison, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize Winning novelist
  • Lena Horne, Musician and actress
  • Louie Armstrong, Musician
  • Marian Anderson, Musician
  • Phillip Randolph, Labor Organizer
  • Dr. Charles Drew, Physician and Inventor
  • Madam C.J. Walker, Entrepreneur
  • Percy Sutton, Businessman
  • Roscoe Brown, World War II Tuskegee Airman and Bronx Comm. College President
  • Aeriwentha ("Mae") Faggs Starr, Olympic runner
  • Jim Brown, Football player
  • Jackie Robinson, Baseball player
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Basketball player and author
  • Governor David Paterson, First African-American Governor
  • H. Carl McCall, First African-American elected to statewide office
  • David Dinkins, First African-American mayor of New York City
  • Shirley Chisholm, First African-American female Congresswoman
  • Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., First African-American from New York elected to Congress
  • Edward A. Johnson, First African-American elected to the State Legislature
  • Bessie A. Buchanan, First African-American female elected to the State Assembly
  • Constance Baker Motley, First African-American female elected to the State Senate
  • Julius A. Archibald, First African-American elected to the State Senate


Objects on display include:

  • Harlem Hellfighters Hat, unit patch and lapel pin
  • Harlem Hellfighters marching music
  • Herman Melville's first edition of Benito Cereno
  • Lieutenant Gedney's written account of his encounter with the La Amistad
  • Letter from Langston Hughes to W.E.B. DuBois
  • Louis Armstrong trumpet
  • Jim Brown rushing trophy from Syracuse University
  • Adam Clayton Powell's 1967 "Keep the Faith, Baby!" album cover
  • Alpha Phi Alpha history book
  • 1914 edition of The Sphinx
  • "Stormy Weather" score with Lena Horne and Cab Calloway on the cover
  • 1848 Free Soil Party ribbon
  • 1818 letter of manumission
  • 1921 edition of The Crisis with Langston Hughes' first published poem
  • 1923 Copy of the Hotel Tattler newspaper


For more information on the individuals and objects featured in the exhibit, visit http://hallofgovernors.ny.gov.