Heading North With Ordinary Dreams
The Great Migration: Stories from the South to the North,
YONKERS, NY, January 10, 2002 - Narrated by African Americans who emigrated to Westchester County between the 1930s and 1970s, The Great Migration: Stories from the South to the North-on exhibit at the Hudson River Museum from February 1 to May 12-is an in-depth microcosm of the larger South-to-North American emigration that began around World War I and continued for decades.
“The Great Migration has special meaning for our community," says Michael Botwinick, Director of the Hudson River Museum. "It collects and preserves very perishable material, the memories of a generation of Westchester residents about their families and work, and the chances and challenges of settling in Westchester."
In addition to the first-person narratives of 15 participants or exhibition “narrators” recorded by Dr. Roger Panetta, a Marymount College history professor, and his students, The Great Migration includes photographs, videos, maps and personal artifacts. Many of the exhibition's photographs were taken by James E. Hinton, whose well-known work has documented the social, political and cultural life of African Americans during the 1960s, mostly in Harlem and Chicago. Mr. Hinton, a professor at SUNY Purchase, and his students also videotaped the narrators as they told their stories.
The Museum plans to continue documenting the histories each year. The stories and the exhibition will be part of a permanent and accessible archival collection at the Westchester County Historical Society.
Telling It Like It Was
Telling their stories are Eula Ellington, Joe Farmer (Superintendent of the Yonkers City Schools), Deacon Roy Fields, Addie Beatrice Johnson Fields, James L. Green, Jr., Sarah Green, Louise Haines, Rev. James Hull, Eva Lillian Goode Jones, Roy L.Lawson, Mary Lewis, Sarah Moore, Calvin O'Neal, Sophie Ward, and Alberta Wren.
Roy Lawson graduated from West Virginia's Bluefield State College with a bachelors of science degree. Unable to find a job in the South, he moved north toYonkers. Later, he became the Senior Environmental Health Technician for Yonkers and worked on the Manhattan Project as well.
Louise Haines came to a cold water flat in Harlem from Columbia, South Carolina when she was 12 years old. Her mother wanted to leave domestic work for a job in a factory. Louise became a secretary and enjoyed being part of a bowling league and a corporate running group.
Calvin O'Neal migrated at 17 from Washington, North Carolina. He came to New York with $1.25 in his pocket to meet his brothers who were living in Yonkers. Calvin got a job as a service advisor at Yonkers Motors and visited the Apollo Theatre on Wednesday nights for amateur night.
Reverend James Hull worked in a coal mine in West Virginia before leaving for Detroit where he became a bus driver. He moved to Maine for a time to escape segregation.
Eva Lillian Goode Jones was born into a family of sharecroppers and started picking cotton when she was 2. At age 5, she played the piano in church, and at 12 got a job as a domestic. At 15, she moved to New York.
Joe Farmer emigrated to Newark at age 12. He graduated from SUNY Oswego and became the first black teacher in a secondary school in Bay Shore, Long Island. Later, he served on the Yonkers City Council and now serves as Superintendent of Yonkers City Schools.
Additional visual material available including photos of Yonkers between the world wars. Interviews with the narrators may arranged.
The Great Migration co-curated by Dr. Roger Panetta, Chair of the History Department at Marymount College and Barbara Davis, Museum Curator of Public Programs. Other members of the exhibition team are Michael Murray, folklorist for the Westchester Arts Council, Jane Bottner, Museum Educator, Kathleen Ginsberg, Museum Magnet School Coordinator and Laura Vookles, Museum Curator of Collections. This exhibition is made possible by a special appropriation from the Westchester Board of Legislators and County Executive Andrew J. Spano. Additional support has been provided by Heineken USA Incorporated.
Located at 511 Warburton Avenue, Yonkers, The Hudson River Museum is a nonprofit, multidisciplinary cultural institution dedicated to fine art, science and history. The Museum houses six modern galleries, the Andrus Planetarium -- Westchester County's only public planetarium and Glenview Mansion, a magnificent 1876 Victorian residence and National Register Site. The Museum is open Wednesday-Sunday, Noon-5 p.m all year and on Fridays, Noon–9 p.m. May through September. Admission is $4 for adults; $3 for children 12 and younger and senior citizens; free for Museum members.