Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced the opening of a Black History Month exhibit, honoring African-American civil rights leaders and activists, all of whom have New York connections, at the state capitol building in Albany.
The month-long exhibit will feature prominent African-Americans throughout New York history — from Stephen Myers, who led the active Albany Underground Railroad station, and Harriet Tubman, who helped lead fugitives to freedom at the Canadian border, to the late Gwen Ifill, a Peabody award winning journalist, and the first African-American woman to host a nationally-televised U.S. public affairs program.
The exhibit is free and open to the public.
“This history is New York’s history, and it is the deeds and accomplishments of these men and women that helped build the foundation of equality and fairness that this state rests upon,” Gov. Cuomo stated. “I urge residents and tourists alike to visit this exhibit, and learn more about the contributions of these visionary African-American leaders, and great New Yorkers.”
The exhibit will include historic artifacts and documents on special loan to the capitol, and will feature the following African-American leaders (listed in alphabetical order):
- Marie M. Daly (1921 – 2003): The first African-American woman to be awarded a Ph.D. in chemistry (Columbia University, NY); ground-breaking researcher, and professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, who helped other minority students enter the sciences.
- Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895): Abolitionist, and the best-selling author of three auto-biographies; a prominent intellectual of his time, and longtime resident of Rochester.
- W. E. B. Du Bois (1868 – 1963): An early civil rights leader; W.E.B. DuBois was founder of the Niagara Movement, a sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, and editor of NAACP magazine The Crisis in New York City.
- Shirley Chisholm (1924 – 2005): An educator, the first African-American congresswoman; a college professor, and public speaker.
- 369th Infantry Regiment “Harlem Hellfighters” (1917 – 1918): The first African-American regiment to serve with the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I.
- Matthew Henson, (1866 – 1955): The first African-American Arctic explorer, as the second-hand man of Commander Robert Peary on seven voyages over a period of nearly 23 years, and longtime resident of New York City.
- Gwen Ifill (1955 – 2016): Political reporter; co-anchor of PBS “NewsHour;” and best-selling author who became the first African-American woman to host a nationally-televised U.S. public affairs program called “Washington Week in Review.” Ifill was born in Queens and, growing up, lived for several years in Buffalo, and on Staten Island.
- Constance Baker Motley (1921 – 2005): A graduate of Columbia Law School, and integral member of the NAACP legal team in New York City that won major civil rights legal battles in the 20th Century; the first black woman to serve as Manhattan Borough president; the first black woman to serve as a federal judge; and the first black woman to serve as a chief federal district court judge.
- Stephen Myers (1800 – 1870): A former slave and prominent newspaper publisher of The Telegraph and Temperance Journal; an activist, and leader of the Albany Underground Railroad.
- Ted Poston (1906 – 1974): One of the first African-American journalists to work at a mainstream newspaper, the New York Post. Poston was the author of award-winning early Civil Rights Era coverage of a racially-charged 1949 Florida rape trial for the Post, and member of the famed “black cabinet,” an informal group of African-American policy advisors to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
- A. Philip Randolph (1889 – 1979): One of the major civil rights leaders of the 20th Century, and longtime resident of New York City, who organized and led the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first predominantly African-American labor union. And, during the early Civil Rights Movement, Randolph prompted President Franklin D. Roosevelt to issue Executive Order 8802 in 1941, banning discrimination in the defense industries during World War II. He also served as a leader of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
- Bayard Rustin (1912 – 1987): A longtime Harlem resident, civil rights leader, and openly gay African-American, he served as advisor to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and as principal organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
- Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, also Arthur Schomburg (1874 –1938): A historian, writer, and activist of the Harlem Renaissance, whose collection of African-American literature, art, and materials became the basis of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library branch in Harlem.
- Mabel Keaton Staupers (1890-1989): A Harlem resident and nurse who, as the executive director of the National Council of Colored Graduate Nurses, helped break down color barriers for nurses serving in World War II.
- Mary Burnett Talbert (1866- 1923): An educator, American orator, Buffalo activist, suffragist, teacher, reformer, and a founder of the Niagara Movement.
- The Rev. Gardner Taylor (1918 – 2015): A highly-acclaimed African-American minister who spoke nationally and internationally, and served, for 42 years, as lead pastor of Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Concord Baptist Church of Christ, the second largest Baptist congregation in America.
- Franklin A. Thomas (b. 1934): The first African-American president of the Ford Foundation, and former federal prosecutor in New York City who was raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and attended Columbia University for college and law school.
- Harriet Tubman (1820 – 1913): An abolitionist, and leader on the Underground Railroad who lived in Auburn, where she became an advocate for the aging, and for women’s suffrage.
- Madam C.J. Walker (1867 – 1919): An African-American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political and social activist who created the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company, offering many African-American women their first job opportunity outside of domestic work.
- Robert C. Weaver (1907 – 1977): The first African-American cabinet member, as the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, who previously served as New York State Rent Commissioner, New York state’s first black state cabinet member.
Visit https://www.ogs.ny.gov/esp/ct/tours/Capitol.asp for additional information regarding the capitol.