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Black Cultural History of Ulster County



Learn about the lesser-known and certainly under-acknowledged cultural history of our region in this free multimedia presentation conveyed in a historical context through a wide range of rare photographs and video clips about the arts, music, photography, visual arts, dance, education, and even boxing, plus an overview of local industries such as brick-making, and how the Black community played an integral part in building major infrastructure projects such as the D&H Canal and the Ashokan Reservoir. We will also highlight the many connections to community activism.

The presentation includes profiles of key figures, including:

  • Harlem’s Father Divine, a charismatic religious leader who practiced liberal interracial practices far ahead of this time and owned various properties in Ulster County;

  • Augusta Savage, The Harlem Renaissance, Harlem Artists Guild, and artists Robert Blackburn and Ben Wigfall;


  • Peg Leg Bates, a renowned performer and owner of the first Black resort in the Catskills;


  • Musician Juma Sultan, who played with Jimi Hendrix at the Woodstock concert and lived for two years at the Group 212 Intermedia Arts Colony;


  • Local photographer Mickey Mathis, illustrator Elizabeth Zunon, and painter Barbara Masterson;

  • Black workers on the Ashokan Reservoir and aqueduct and the brick industry;

  • Musicians Odetta, Jimi Hendrix, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins, and others.

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