The SUNY New Paltz Department of Black Studies and the Black Studies Student Organization have collaborated with faculty and the staff of the Sojourner Truth Library to assemble an exhibition dedicated to the history and future of Black Studies at New Paltz.
The exhibition opened on Feb. 10 with an evening program in the Library lobby and reception area, featuring a panel discussion between student and faculty exhibition curators and a guided tour of the new displays.
The panel was moderated by Kimberly Roman ’16 (Early Childhood Education – Black Studies B-6) and included students Jean Padilla ’16 (Sociology – Criminology), Rosa Rosario ’17 (Black Studies, Sociology) and Nicole Striffolino ’16 (Graphic Design). The panelists were joined by new Special Assistant to Black Studies Anthony Winn ’92 (Business Administration).
“I definitely wouldn’t be the person I am today without Black Studies,” Rosario said. “Black Studies has taught me about my history, my culture and my place in the world, how important it is not only to be here but to own my space and be proud of who I am.”
“Black Studies has impacted my life in so many ways, it’s almost hard to speak about,” Padilla said. “I know who I am now. I know my role in my community. The Department has also allowed me to meet great mentors, and they’ve helped me see what I have to do to help those younger than me.”
“The department that resonates most with who I ended up becoming, who I am sitting before you today, was Black Studies,” Winn said. “All of these threads of understanding humanity – identifying yourself as an asset and a role player, standing up for what’s right and realizing that sacrifices have been made and that we in turn are due to make sacrifices – I got all that through my Black Studies experience. In the end, that’s what gave me a sense of understanding of who I am as a man, and also a sense of responsibility and duty that I celebrate every day and try to transfer to others along the way. I’m very grateful to Black Studies.”
The Black Studies exhibition is currently open to all community members. It includes displays celebrating the history of the Department of Black Studies, the history of student activism on campus, the life of former Black Studies Chair Margaret Wade-Lewis and the many faculty publications and other recommended readings that have underpinned the curricula over the years.
The students were assisted in compiling the exhibition by Assistant Professor of Sociology Alexandra Cox and Reference Librarian Heather Shimon. While the students had faculty and staff support, it was ultimately their enthusiasm for the legacy of Black Studies at New Paltz that led to the creation of this event and exhibition.
“You are the power behind the Black Studies Department,” said Department Chair Major Coleman in addressing the student organizers. “We are building on a proud tradition, and I look forward to watching that process.”