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Posted on: February 22, 2023

Tracing Our Roots: New Rochelle's Black History Exhibit at New Rochelle Public Library

In observance of Black History month, the New Rochelle Council on the Arts (NRCA) presents an original exhibit, Tracing Our Roots: New Rochelle’s Black History from Sunday, February 5th through Saturday, March 4th, 2023, in the Lumen Winter Gallery of the New Rochelle Public Library, during library hours. 

In this exhibit the NRCA continues its on-going exploration of the city’s heritage by focusing on the places, people, events and movements that shaped the lives of its African American residents. Through compelling graphic design, photographs, primary documents, maps, early newspaper articles and an illuminating narrative, this exhibit reveals the extraordinary heritage of New Rochelle’s Black community. 

The narrative is one of slavery, migration, segregation and intentional integration, venerable institutions, acclaimed national figures, tireless activism, and preservation of tradition. From its years as an early colonial settlement and then premier commuter community, to 21st century city-suburb, New Rochelle often serves as a microcosm of the nation: In many ways the experiences of its African American residents have foretold America’s collective Black experience. 

“In 1984 NRCA presented an extraordinary exhibit, Glimpses of the Past: 300 Years of Black History in New Rochelle. It was the first time New Rochelle’s African American story became fully accessible to the general public,” said Barbara Davis, New Rochelle’s City Historian and Co-Director of the Westchester County Historical Society, who was the exhibit coordinator for Tracing Our Roots. “The 2023 NRCA exhibit committee took that lead to create an entirely fresh presentation, a broader perspective. It is our hope that the exhibit will foster dialogue and encourage the preservation of family records, family stories and life in New Rochelle.”

The New Rochelle Council on the Arts was founded in 1975; its mission is to encourage the study and presentation of the performing and fine arts. For almost 50 years NRCA has worked to fulfill that mission by sponsoring art exhibits, public art, theatrical productions, dance recitals, film screenings, lectures, and concert series, contributing to a richer and more vibrant arts community in New Rochelle and lower Westchester. Among NRCA’s most recent projects are  the 20 #NRNY Murals, a collaboration with New Rochelle IDA and Street Art for Mankind;  the NRCA Rotunda Gallery at City Hall, providing much-needed exhibition space for artists with three exhibits a year since 2012; the Summer Sounds Concert Series, bringing free weekly concerts to Hudson Park each summer since 2008; and ArtsFest, a weekend-long celebration of the arts in New Rochelle and Pelham every fall. Find out more about NRCA at

NRCA’s “Tracing Our Roots” exhibit committee included Maddali Paci Atallah, Jasmine Brown, Barbara Davis, Leslie Demus, Selena Evans and Linda Tarrant-Reid.  The exhibit was co-curated by Barbara Davis and Linda Tarrant-Reid and designed by Jesse Sanchez. “Tracing Our Roots” was made possible with funding from the New Rochelle Corporation for Local Development and NRCA. 

A free public exhibit reception will take place on Saturday, February 25th, from 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm, in the library’s lobby. 


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