A trip to the Museum calls to mind the significant contributions and fascinating history of African-Americans in Northeast Florida. Replicated scenes of everyday life mix with photographs and artifacts to bring forth the essence of a past filled with work and worship, family and community, hardship and perseverance. “Lift Ev’ry Voice” captures the excitement of 1920’s LaVilla through music, photography and an extensive collection of objects of daily life. This Permanent exhibit features a salute to LaVilla’s native sons, James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson, and the voices of the late renowned actor Ossie Davis, educator Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, and singer/actor Harry Burney set a dramatic tone as the brothers’ share their history.
Bringing communities together is what the Hannibal Square Heritage Center is all about. Mid-Century: A Photographic View of Three African-American Communities in Florida, is on view at the Heritage Center and at the Alice & William Jenkins Gallery from September 9 to December 30, 2011. This two venue exhibition features Ellie Lee Weems “Photographs of the La Villa Community in Jacksonville,” Gordon Parks “Portrait of the Midway Neighborhood in Daytona Beach,” and selections from family photographs of the Hannibal Square Community in West Winter Park. It is curated by Crealdé Executive Director and documentary photographer Peter Schreyer, in partnership with The Ritz Theatre and Museum in Jacksonville and The Southeast Museum of Photography in Daytona Beach, Florida. The archival prints made at Crealdé from the Jacksonville collection will be donated back to the Ritz Museum, for use as a travelling exhibition.
This original exhibition explores a little-known aspect of history which reveals the shared strength of African-American communities in Florida prior to desegregation, urban renewal and the Civil Rights era. Photographs depicting community life in the historic La Villa neighborhood, once known as “the Harlem of the South” in the 1940s and 1950s, were taken by the late Jacksonville African-American professional photographer Ellie Weems and were obtained from the archives of the Ritz Theatre and Museum. These images are paired with mid-century selections from Crealdé’s Heritage Collection: Photographs and Oral Histories of West Winter Park. Gordon Park’s 1943 photographs of the Midway neighborhood in Daytona Beach will be on loan from The Southeast Museum of Photography. Prints from each are available for viewing at both venues.
The Mid-Century exhibition’s opening night on Friday, September 9, includes a panel discussing the perspectives of the late artist Gordon Parks, the commercial photographer Ellie Weems, and the individual family (Crealdé’s Heritage Collection) from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. The educational panel will illuminate the different approaches to the importance of community documentation, and consists of Peter Schreyer, moderator and Crealdé’s Executive Director; Lydia Stewart, Curator and Administrator of the Ritz Theatre and Museum; a representative from the Southeast Museum of Photography; and Fairolyn Livingston, Heritage Center Manager and Chief Historian. A reception will follow at the Jenkins Gallery from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Crealdé’s main campus. Then move with the crowd to a live jazz reception at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center from 8:30 to 10:00 p.m., featuring music from the 1940s and 1950s.Weems Photographs Featured In Collaborative Mid-Century Exhibit