HomeNewsThe City of Jackson honors Black History Month with exhibits, presentations

The City of Jackson honors Black History Month with exhibits, presentations

The City of Jackson is honoring Black History Month by showcasing Black artists in City Hall. The City made the announcement Thursday. Artists include photographer Dan Battle, painter Rose Newhouse, and students from Keep My Hood Good. 

“There would be no Jackson without Black culture, there would be no United States. Black history is American history. It’s time for us in Jackson and West Tennessee to see to recognize everyone who made contributions to where we are today,” Mayor Scott Conger said during the exhibit reveal.

Rose Newhouse is the artist behind the Gil Scott-Heron mural on E. College St. in Downtown Jackson. Heron, a world-renowned poet and musician, was one of the first Black children in Jackson to attend an all-white school during integration. Newhouse has five paintings on display in City Hall. 

“I just want to create something that makes people smile. Because we deal with enough things right now that’s going on. And I just want to have something that’s going to be thought provoking, make people smile and just, you know, give them a nice feeling. And for a moment, not think about the other things. Just look at that and just smile. And that’s why I created those.”

That was a similar sentiment to Dan Battle’s collection of photography. 

“Those photos mean 1000 words, whatever you get from that photo is your perspective, right?” Battle said. “I want people to realize that my photos are people you know, there’s a story behind it. Everyone is human, and they have a smile. In a lot of my photos, people are smiling.”

Battle’s collection features photos of Black people around Jackson. Some people are petting their dogs, others are standing in front of stores. The camera catches people in their everyday lives, and gives Battle the opportunity to have a conversation with them. 

“I just started to take pictures and give these people a platform to tell their stories. My purpose is to just allow people to realize, everyone has a story. Everyone is the same,” Battle said. 

Every Friday at 3:30 p.m during the month of February, the City is honoring Black history with different presentations. 

The first presentation focused on the theme for this year’s Black History Month: Black Resistance. 

Wendy Trice Martin told stories of influential Black people in Jackson, including recognizing the first to come to Jackson, doctors and nurses, teachers, and others. She also spoke on the importance of houses of worship, as they were a means for organization as well as spiritual fulfillment. 

“These houses of worship were so important to our people, not just because it was a place of worship, because it was a school room for acquiring literacy,” Martin said.

Special recognition was given to the group of Lane College students who protested at Woolworth’s lunch counter: Shirlene Mercer, Kimmie Davis, Wesley McClure and Ernest Brooks, Sr. An exhibit honoring the “Freshman Four” is located at the entrance to the George A. Smith Meeting Room at City Hall. 

During the presentation, Martin asked the crowd to follow her to the exhibit while singing “We Shall Overcome.” The emotional and symbolic moment left many in tears. 

The Lane College Choir also sang two songs, including the spiritual “Soon I will Be Done,” along with performances by local high school students. 

February 10, the City will host poetry readings with James Cherry along with music from E.J. Shelton. 

February 17, Nadia Beard and the Children’s Theatre Company of Jackson Kids with a Cause will perform. 

February 24, Mona Lisa Lanier Dance Studio and the Hub City Mass Choir will have performances.  The City of Jackson is also recognizing influential Black citizens on their Facebook page all month long. 

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