Senate House’s African American Culture and History Festival

Scholar on African American history in the Hudson Valley, Professor A.J. Williams-Myers, of SUNY New Paltz, will give a talk looking at the specific contributions of Africans and African Americans to the Hudson Valley’s development entitled, &#8220There is a River – A Mighty River: Social and Economic Contributions of Africans along the Hudson, from the Dutch Period to the American Revolution.&#8221 The talk, at 11:00 am on Saturday, October 3, is the kickoff event for an entire weekend of free programming: Senate House’s African American Culture and History Festival, which takes place from 11:00 am to 4:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday, October 3 and 4.

In his talk, Professor Williams-Myers examines the African at center stage in the unfolding of history along the Hudson River above New York City. Professor Williams-Myers notes: “Heretofore, the African has been marginal to that history, and his or her social, economic and military contributions have not been adequately integrated into the larger picture.” There is a River moves the African from out of the shadows of the margin and into the sunlight of center stage, while succinctly recounting his or her historical role in the unfolding of history along the mighty Hudson River.

Professor of Black Studies at the State University of New York at New Paltz, Williams-Myers is the author of numerous books, including, Long Hammering: Essays on the Forging of an African American Presence in the Hudson River Valley to the Early Twentieth Century (1994) and On the Morning Tide: African Americans, History and Methodology in the Historica (2003).

The lecture is part of a free, weekend-long festival celebrating the cultural contributions of African Americans to the Hudson River Valley, New York, and the nation. Saturday, October 3, and Sunday October 4 will include live music, dance, drama, and spoken word performances, as well as art, hands-on activities, food, and free tours of Senate House and free admission to the Senate House Museum. Some of the scheduled artists include Voices of Glory, a young a cappella threesome who are finalists on the TV show, America’s Got Talent- renowned performers Kim and Reggie Harris- The Voices of Praise choir- the Ulster County Community Choir, the Energy Dance Troupe- the SUNY New Paltz Step Dancers, Kibola Sougei African Dance Troupe, and historical dramatists Carolyn Evans (as Sojourner Truth) and Terry Gittens (as Bessie Mae).

Senate House will also debut its African American Oral History recordings, made recently in collaboration with the Ulstercorps Harvesting a Lifetime Oral History Project, conducted with residents of Ulster County, sharing with us their experiences over the past six decades.

Senate House State Historic Site is located at 296 Fair Street, Kingston, NY 12401. For more information please call (845) 338-2786, or visit the following website for more information: www.nysparks.state.ny.us.

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