Exhibition Preview: “Still I Rise: The Black Experience at Reynolda”

Director of Library and Archives Bari Helms shares a virtual sneak peek of the 2022 exhibition, Still I Rise: The Black Experience at Reynolda. Opening February 22, the exhibition will examine the lives of the Black men and women, including nationally recognized artists, who shaped Reynolda as it evolved from a Jim Crow-era working estate into a nonprofit American art museum, incorporated in 1967.


so good afternoon everyone

i’m allison perkins executive director

at reynolda house and i’m delighted to

welcome all of you

so although

still i rise the black experience at


exhibition does not open until 2022

we were very much inspired by the

bookmarks book with purpose initiative

that we designed this preview so if you

aren’t familiar with books with purpose

i’ll just briefly explain that it’s a

community-wide anti-racism initiative

grounded in american literature and

shared dialogue

and i want to give a special thanks to

bookmark for making this education

educational partnership a reality for

our community

so give me great pleasure and an honor

to introduce today’s presenter barry

helms barry is director of archives and

the library at reynolda

she earned her ba in history from duke


and a masters in library and information

science from unc chapel hill

so prior to her 2014 arrival at reynolda

she was a local records archivist at the

library of virginia in richmond

and at reynolda berry has helped develop

the reynolda revealed app which i hope

many of you have downloaded

and she’s curated exhibitions including

catherine smith reynolds johnston

a self in the remaking

i really like that

a very popular archival exhibition still

i rise the black experience at reynolda

is grounded in primary resources

including correspondence and oral


more than reynolda as a private family

home today’s talk will explore

the site’s history as an american art

museum and one chapter in the museum’s

history that i’m particularly interested

in learning more about

is the contributions of visiting artists

to the museum so without further ado i

bring you barry helms barry thanks so

much for your

many contributions to reynolda and for

the research that you’re embarking on

for this really special exhibition and

thanks again to bookmarks and everyone

in our audience for joining us very

thank you

thank you allison and thank you everyone

for joining me today for a preview of

the next archival exhibit

um still i rise the black experience

will open next year and it will examine

the many ways that black men and women

have intersected with ronaldo from the

tobacco plantation where r.j reynolds

grew up

through ronaldo as a working estate and

family home during the jim crow era

through the civil rights era until

renata became a public institution

dedicated to the arts

um that is a vast story to parse down

for a preview talk today

i struggled with how to organize this so

that you’re getting

as close to a full experience of the

exhibit as possible

i decided to approach this from the

perspective of the museum era and so

today i’m going to talk about the events

and programs that were happening that

shaped the evolution of the museum and

what projects were happening that helped

us know what we know about reynaldo’s


um i created a timeline of the events

and projects that inform this exhibit

and particularly this talk today

and so we’re going to be talking about

what was happening at the museum

particularly in the 70s and 80s and we

will sort of hop from topic to topic so

it’ll be a little bumpy ride but just

stick with it

um so this way you’re going to get the

highlights of some of these significant

moments in the exhibition

so renault open to the public as an

institution dedicated to the arts and

education in 1965

and then as an art museum in 1967

but i’m going to start today in 1970

so 1970 was the year that the museum

named its first executive director

nicholas b bragg he had been at

old salem and he was hired to really

start the education program at rinalda

and that education program was what

ronaldo was known for for a number of

years even when renata first got

accredited by the american association

of museums in 1972 they noted that

renaldo didn’t really operate like a

traditional museum at the time but they

had an incredibly strong educational

program in place

but why i want to talk about 1970 is

the opening of the reynolds homestead in

kreitz virginia that seems like

yes barry this is amber albert sorry to

interrupt um we’ve had quite a few

people um have trouble with the link it

is going to the calendar instead of the

uh webinar so i have resent


the link to everyone and just want to

see um

give it just a couple minutes for folks

to catch up

okay if you if you’re comfortable doing

that sure

yes see we’ve already sort of doubled

our attendance so just maybe two more



and i apologize everyone i’m not sure

how that


okay i’ll just back this up a little bit

all right

all right so i will go ahead and um

restart a little bit for folks who are

just now joining us

um so

today to preview this exhibition still i

rise i’m going to focus in on events and

programs that


informed how the museum evolved and also

the projects that were happening that

helped us learn what we know about

ronaldo’s past

so renaldo opened as a

institution opened to the public as an

institution dedicated to the arts and

education in 1965 and then as an art

museum in 1967 but i’m going to start

today in 1970

uh 1970 was the year that the museum

named its first executive director

nicholas b bragg

he had been at old salem and he was

hired to really start the education

program at rinalda and

ronaldo was known for a number of years

for the strength of its educational


but what happened in 1970 that i really

want to talk about

is um

the opening of the reynolds homestead in

christ virginia which seems like a

strange place to start

um but the reynolds homestead was

actually rock spring plantation where rj

was born and where he grew up

it had stayed in family hands and then

nancy reynolds rj and catherine’s

younger daughter acquired it and she was

like what do i do with this now

she ended up deeding the house and

surrounding acres to virginia tech and

it was and still is used as a community

engagement center and a forestry

research center

where it connects to ronaldo

is that

nancy had developed a relationship with

nick bragg

through renaldo and she turned to him

for advice in turning the property into

a museum and for a few years renata

staff actually ran the educational

programs at the reynolds homestead

but what’s relevant to this exhibition

is that while they were renovating the

home they found a box of documents that

had belonged to rj’s father hardin

william reynolds

this box is still on display at the

museum and you can it’s not a great

picture but um you can see in the box

there’s this fabric

filing system that he used to organize

his papers but all the documents

actually came to ronaldo and our inner

archives today

and those papers really helped fill out

rj’s history and the truth of what his

background and early years were really


so during his lifetime rj reynolds

really relied heavily himself on this

myth that he was a self-made man who

came from almost nothing to become this

industrial titan and tobacco

and his legacy today sometimes still

depends on that myth making

even the choice to name the museum of

christ the reynolds homestead instead of

what it was known during rj’s time which

was rock spring plantation

as to the idea that rj came from humble

beginnings it’s just interesting that

even in 1970 they knew that the term

homestead had different connotations

than plantation


other farmers in the region rj’s father

recognized that manufacturing tobacco

was more lucrative than growing the leaf

alone by the time rj was born in 1850

the tobacco factory was harden’s primary

source of income

rj grew up as a boy and young man

working the floor of his father’s

tobacco factory he learned the mechanics

of the factory the value of one

flavoring over another the factors that

led to the fluctuations of tobacco

prices and how to select the choices


in later life rj would use the story of

working as a hand in his father’s

factory to ingratiate himself with his

own workers and while that story was

technically true

he did so as the slaveholder’s son

so hardened reynolds was one of the

largest slave holders in his area of


by the time of the civil war he owned

more than 60 enslaved persons

i mentioned that the reynolds homestead

still operating as a museum and in

recent years they have done tremendous

research in documenting the history of

enslaved people on the property and

documenting the

slave graveyard that is that is still


but as part of hardin’s papers that came

to rinalda there are several bills of

sale for enslaved people the example i

have up here today on the left

is one for the hiring out of a man named

frank for the year 1860.

hardin’s tobacco plantation survived the

civil war and transitioned to using

black tenant labor or sharecroppers

hardin paid very little he drew up harsh

contracts and would often not fulfill

his agreement

in one instance during reconstruction

the freedman’s bureau stepped in to

advocate on behalf of a woman who

claimed that harden did not pay her and

also threatened to drive her from the


and there are other instances in the

late 1860s where tenant farmers were

suing hardened to receive what they or

their families were owed for their work

so rj grew up in the slave holding

economy and later sharecropping and it’s

interesting to think about how that

influenced how rj treated his own


we certainly see the idea of

fraternalism play out and how rj

consistently gave small amounts of money

to social institutions reform

associations hospitals schools and

churches particularly those in the black


his strategy certainly suggests that he

understood how industries could function

as social institutions

rj’s giving was local and peace meal but

it proved to be a strategic way to

foster a social stability that would

help stabilize his workforce and prevent

workers from heading north to find

better paying jobs and his strategy

worked we don’t see a serious attempt by

tobacco workers to to unionize until

1919 which was the year after rj’s death

so we’re going to

switch gears a little and skip to 1972

and 1973.

in 1972 is when ronaldo received its

first accreditation from the american

association of museums there was a black

art seminar and exhibit in 1973 ronaldo

received its first painting by a black

artist and maya angelou made her first

of many visits to ronaldo

so in

1972 then executive director nicholas

bragg received a phone call from a

museum goer asking how

ronaldo could presume to present

american art when there were no black

artists represented in the collection

so out of that conversation

came a seminar on black art and and an

exhibition of paintings

so at the seminar participants discussed

the challenges of being black and an

artist how that affected their work

the struggle to make a living as an

artist and they even grappled with you

know what was black art how did they

define that


this was the first of several instances

where black artists came together at

ronaldo to discuss their work even 10

years from this point we will see the

same topics being discussed by artists

how does being black affect your art

there’s this constant theme of the

pressures they felt to represent in a

community and to have their art speak

not only for themselves but for the

black community as a whole here muralist

eugene wade said i no longer attempt to

represent all black artists and doing

what is significant to me

so nick brad gave an interview about the

black art seminar and at the end of the

end of the interview he spoke about

being excited that the event prompted

the first gift of a work by a black

artist to be added to ronaldo’s

permanent collection

in the interview he actually named jacob

lawrence’s builders number two as the

work that was coming to ronaldo but it

would actually be a few years before

that piece was added to the collection

horace pippen’s 1941 work the whipping

was actually the first acquisition by an

african-american artist and it is still

the earliest work in the collection by a

black artist

it was a gift to the museum by lee alt a

major figure in the new york art world

he gave the painting to the museum after

barbara babcock milhouse the museum’s

first president had admired the painting

in his apartment

the whipping is a small piece that

addresses racial injustice in 19th and

20th 20th century america

horace pippen served during world war

one and sustained an injury to his right

shoulder that forced him to invent new

ways to create his art

after his return for more pippin felt

betrayed by the racial injustices and

inequalities he experienced

the red white and blue color palette of

this work combined with an image from

the days of slavery suggests that it is

pippen’s commentary about the horrific

aspects of america’s past and how it was

still resonating for him and his own


in 19 later in 1973 was the year when

maya angelou first came to reynolda and

wake forest she performed her work in

the reception hall

and she spoke to a standing room only

crowd at wake forest during the school’s

first black awareness week

much of her presentation concerned what

it meant to grow up in the south as a

human being with black skin and what

african americans including students

still had to endure her talk went well

into the night as she continued to

engage with students long after her

formal presentation was over

um later she wrote about the experience

in ebony magazine and she wrote i had

pulled no punches and softened no points

yet white stood beside blacks clapping

their hands and smiling i knew that

morning that one day i would return to

the south in general in north carolina

in particular

she returned to wake forest in 1977 to

receive an honorary degree and in 1982

she was named the first reynolds

professor of american studies and she

made her home in winston-salem a land

that was once part of the rinalda estate

so we’re going to jump ahead in 1980 and

a project that was instrumental in our

understanding of ronaldo’s history

particularly in our knowledge of the

lives of the men and women who lived and

worked on the estate


so the renault oral history project was

it was actually partially funded by rj

reynolds industries as it was known then

um the project was led by luanne jones a

graduate student at in the southern oral

history program at unc luanne noted at

the time that most of the reynolds

family was interpreted through the story

of z smith reynolds death and that there

was a lot of misstatement of fact

in fact one of several books written

about libby holman was actually

published months before luanne started

conducting her interviews

she thought that people seemed to think

that the key to unlocking the history of

the reynolds family was the smith story

but she didn’t think that was the case

she was much more interested in

katherine reynolds so while i’m going to

focus on what this project learned about

the black community today these

interviews also help shape how we

understand catherine reynolds as well

in talking about the project luanne

jones said

mainly we were trying to get at what

life was like at ronaldo for the many

people whose lives intersected there

from the woman who was laundress to the

woman who was served breakfast in bed we

wanted to look at renaldo from different

points of view

so as the project progressed the

priorities of it actually shifted a

little little because it became clear to

them that the interviews could add a

significant contribution to the

understanding of the history of

african-americans in winston-salem um

the interviews detailed experiences at

ronaldo but they also dwell on what it

meant to be black in the jim crow south

um the picture um you see up on your

screen right now is luanne jones

interviewing harvey miller

who um

he grew up in i’ll talk more about him

in a minute but he grew up in five row

and became the butler for the babcock

family and he

continued to be employed by ronaldo when

it was turned into a museum

she’s interviewing him here on the sun

porch and you can tell it was a

different time because you could sit on

the furniture then

so it was through this oral history

project that the story of the lives of

the black men and women who worked here

really come to life particularly the

story of five row

five row doesn’t appear in the written

documents in the archives at all

it’s shown on the map of the estate that

was done in

1924 and corrected in 1927 which you see

on your screen right now but it’s not

labeled as fibro it’s identified as

colored cottages with no information

about the people who lived there and the

lives they led

their names do appear on the payroll

ledgers but without this oral history

project the idea that fiverr became a

community of shared experiences and not

just a cluster of cottages would have

been lost to history

so fivro gets his name because it

originally consisted of two rows of five

houses with a larger boarding house for

multiple families and a two building

that served as a school and church

and it’s through this project that we

began to understand how ronaldo worked

as an estate during the time of jim crow

jim crow laws touched every aspect of

life from jobs to education to health



you know in in practice jim crow was

really the legitimization of anti-black

racism and ronaldo was not exempt from


um it’s really impossible to talk about

ronaldo’s history without the context of

jim crow particularly what was happening

in winston-salem at the time

large-scale disenfranchisement began

happening in the 1892 and 1894 elections

this followed the 1890 election in which

the newly formed colored man’s ticket

defeated all the white democrats which

interestingly included rj reynolds who

was up for

re-election as city commissioner that


then in 1912 with salem enacted a

residential segregation ordinance

modeled after the one in richmond and

1912 is the same year that construction

begins at ronaldo

so ronaldo was technically outside of

winston-salem city limits and therefore

not subject to municipal laws but that

didn’t mean that renault was exempt from

jim crow there may not have been a law

in place to force segregation at renata

but jim crow created such a pervasive

racialized culture that affected all

spaces and places we see evidence of

this at renault through separate housing

separate schools and one good example is


fiverr was created as a separate not

always equal community

for the oral history project luanne

jones said she wanted to learn about the

laundress to the woman who served

breakfast in bed um flora pledger was

one of the women who at times worked in

the laundry at rinalda through her

interview we learned that ronaldo did

pay good wages

better than what farm workers and tenant

farmers could earn elsewhere ellis

pledger her husband traveled 20 miles a

day to make nine dollars a week and that

was three times the pay he had been he

had been earning

in 1916 he moved to five row with flora

who described their new home as the best

place i’d ever seen

um catherine reynolds increased wages

for regularity and she gave generous

christmas bonus bonuses and in some

years included cash for the average farm

worker wages began at 7.50 a week and

then went up to 18 a week by 1940.

early jobs for black farm workers

included draining ditches in the

construction of lake catherine this

involved the stones to be used for the

lake bridge involves the overflow on the

renault roadside of the lake became the

community pool

used by black and white workers and

according to several oral histories this

space was also used for baptism by the

five row church

other early jobs for black workers were

clearing the land and laying the

foundations for the first buildings you

can catch a few workers in this picture

putting up the superintendent’s cottage

after structure was completed black

workers tended to livestock planted and

harvested crops and generally helped

maintain the property

workers received their job for the day

and their pay at the watering shed which

was located in centrally in the village

many of them worked as teamsters working

with a mule or horse

team pulling a plow

they also drove drove mule teams to

clear roads and spaces to build and

improve on the estate um and this work

of greeting the land with mule teams

actually continued on into the 30s

the indoor pool at ronaldo was an

addition added by the babcock family in

1935 1936 and we have photographs of

men working that area with the with a

mule team while the pool was under


in addition to driving a team workers

would upkeep the roads do landscaping

mow the grass and on saturdays all men

swept and raped around the lake

workers jobs included hauling coal to

the heating plant the rock quarry and

the blacksmith shop and other

miscellaneous jobs included driving the

bus to transport workers and the night


so unlike houses in renaldo village

those in five roads did not have

electricity or running water

the houses were aboard construction

while most of the residences in the

village were made from stucco

families made do with kerosene lamps and

coal heaters water was drawn from

several taps of artesian well water if

you were lucky you live close enough to

the water tap for the hose to reach your


residents raised their own livestock

poultry hogs and milk cows and ronaldo

farm provided milk and vegetables at

wholesale prices

we don’t have many pictures of five row

but you can get a glimpse of some of the

houses and the background like on the

photographs you see right now

um so on on one hand this way of living

would have been viewed as normal for

farm workers living in the country

however it becomes unequal when you look

at the context of catherine getting what

is now ronaldo road paved one of the

first ones in the state

she worked with the electric company to

get electricity all the way out here um

and could have provided it to fivero but

chose not to

many of the oral history interviews talk

about the school at five row

education was provided for the children

and the families who worked at reynolda

there was the ronaldo school for white

children that even the reynolds children


but there was a separate school at fibro

and it was housed in this building that

also served as a church

the school opened in 1918 with six

students classes were held in the

two-room building

that you see on your screen

they had the same curriculum as the

renault school history geography

spelling grammar painting drawing music

and math we’re taught one student

recalled learning about aviation

teachers at the fiverr school were

educated at hampton university bennett

college and slater academy

attendance continued to grow some black

families in town actually sent their

children out to the fiber schools as

they deemed it better

than the public schools for black

children the ronaldo school closed in

1923 but the school at five row actually

operated another 20 years closing

sometime in the 1940s

we learned a lot about the domestic

staff that worked in the house in these

interviews as well

as many of the people interviewed worked

in the house for the babcock family

often when you think about domestic

staff you think of live-in staff but

that was rarely the case in the south

during this time period and at rinalda

the only domestic staff members who

lived in the house were the governess

and nurses most of the domestic staff

lived downtown and traveled from the

city to reynaldo and back taking a

street car for a nickel to the downtown

post office and then a bus that

catherine provided out to ronaldo

and the bus is an interesting

piece about from the oral history

project that like even the oral history

project didn’t answer all of the

questions when did it start how long did

it last who could use it

um did employees have to pay the fare

was that part of their employment i did

discover recently that the fares for the

teachers at the five row school were

paid for by ronaldo but it’s unclear if

that was the case for the domestic staff

as well

so we saw earlier that picture of luanne

jones interviewing heart harvey miller

um his interview all total is about

eight hours long um

harvey miller grew up in five row after

his parents henry and mamie miller came

to ronaldo in 1922.

his father worked on the farm and was

one of the mule teamsters harvey started

out doing odd jobs in the estate and

eventually trained under john carter who

was catherine’s butler to become the

butler for the babcocks he would work

here at ronaldo and would travel with

the family when they were living in

connecticut and then he would continue

to work at ronaldo after it became a

museum and he retired in 1982

so harvey is an example of

multi-generational tenures that happened

at ronaldo

and this was a bit

unusual for the time period particularly

for people who were in domestic service

the typical time for most domestics to

work at one place was three to six

months so having someone like harvey who

grew up here and then worked his entire

career here was unusual

so when harvey was interviewed he talked

a lot about his job and he said i didn’t

work by the hour you’d start and stop

you had a starting point but not too

much of a getting off point i was here

all the time i’d come here in the

morning at 8 o’clock 7 30 or 8 and would

stay until everything was finished

but harvey you made the point that being

the employee of such an established and

well-regarded winston-salem family

actually softened race relations when

dealing with other white people in

western salem

the specif specific example he used was

that white store owners were far more

willing to extend him credit than to

other black men because he was known to

work for the reynolds family

elizabeth wade was a another staff

member who was interviewed

she started off at the laundry and then

worked as a maid and catherine reynolds

was so impressed with her work

that she had her take over the role of

switchboard operator

elizabeth wade actually quit ronaldo to

raise her own family

uh after she got married but she later

came back to work as a government

governess for dick reynolds r.j and

catherine’s oldest son

and her interview

elizabeth wade talks a lot about being

white passing and what that meant for

that time period

she describes having to ride on a jim

crow car

jim crow train car and how awful and hot

it was and

when she changed trains she decided to

pass and ride the rest of the way on the

white car

she also shared how she was asked to

pass by dick reynolds while she was

working for him that when they

traveled they would go to places that

she couldn’t as a black woman even

though she was with the kids like um

the example she gave like was on the

plane or when they were at the beach in

miami and dick reynolds would tell her

and so this was her quote you’re not

black now you’re white

so elizabeth wade didn’t get into

how this made her feel this having to

deny a piece of your identity but it

clearly made an impact that she was

talking about it you know two decades

after it happened

so when um these former staff members

were interviewed they were all asked

about the civil rights movement and

particularly how the babcock family felt

about the civil rights

era with harvey in particular that was

an interesting question to ask because

he was someone who was still employed at

rinalda he was working for the museum

and i’m sure there was a sense that the

reynolds family was still kind of his

boss i mean he me his interview even

took place at reynolda

no one answered the question directly

which isn’t surprise surprise and they

all sort of deflected and answered

around it

um but harvey answered the question by

saying uh she meaning mary

reynolds babcock didn’t say my servants

it was her staff they didn’t tell you to

do so and so they asked you and said

thank you they had respect for us and we

had respect for them i’ll put it that


so in his interview he returns a lot to

this idea of mutual respect and another

quote he said i won’t say it was love

but it was respect

and you hear echoes of that sentiment

and many of the other interviews as well

so around 1960 and you can see fibro in

this image um it’s the cluster of houses

in the upper left corner

so fiber lasted until around 1960 when

it was demolished for the building of

silas creek parkway during a push for

urban renewal

there was a time in which various levels

of white majority governments

raised traditionally black neighborhoods

and replaced them with new roads and

highways beneath a veneer of progress

some current residents the five road

chose to purchase their home and use the

materials to help build their new houses

in her interview flora pledger talked

about successfully petitioning charlie

babcock to pay for the relocation of the

church building

so while the renault oral history

project gave us the stories of the

people of five row

many of whom actually lived here longer

and were a more

constant presence at ronaldo than

members of the royals family but it

would be more than a decade later before

we could add faces to many of these

names and stories

um gg parent who’s pictured here on the


went gathering stories and photographs

in the community she with the help of

saki hamlin to flesh out the story of

the five

row community and she curated an exhibit

um called the spirit of renaldo black

contributions to renaldo 1912 to 1962.

um it opened in 1993

so she went in to the community to talk


former fiverr residents who were still

alive or their descendants she learned

more names she gathered more stories and

most importantly she collected this

visual evidence

she talks about going and asking these

families for photographs and at first

they would give her pictures of the

reynolds family and she would be like no


i want pictures of you

and so many of them told her that that

was the first time anyone had asked them

for that

when the exhibit opened at ronald it was

displayed on the sun porch it was the

largest opening for an exhibit at that

time and it really spoke to

how vibrant the five row community still

was and how important it was to continue

to tell these stories

all right so we’re gonna um shift back

to the art world in 1981.

so in march 1981 a contemporary american

arts seminar combined the talents of

artist jacob lawrence

author and poet maya angelou and

musicians antoinette handy and william e


the seminar marked the opening of a

month-long exhibition of paintings by

lawrence whose builders number two was

on permanent loan to ronaldo house

nine other paintings including six from

lawrence’s private collection provided a

sampling of lawrence’s development from

1942 to 1979.

lawrence is pictured here in front of

some of his works on display

beside him is his wife gwendolyn knight

an artist in her own right who he

credits as his third eye giving him an

objective opinion of his work

so the three-day seminar featured a

reading of the ronaldo house collection

by jacob lawrence a lecture of his work

in two separate studio sessions one for

local artists and one for the general


and there was a lecture and

demonstration on the history of jazz and

an evening with maya angelou at this

point in her career

she had published three collections of

poetry and three volumes of her

autobiography she would actually come

back to renato later this same year for

a reading of the fourth volume heart of

a woman

as part of the seminar maya angelou and

jacob lawrence shared a public

conversation between artists

they knew each other prior and speaking

in the event jacob lawrence said i don’t

know what form that would take when

you’re dealing with a person who deals

with words you don’t do the same things

my medium is a visual one but knowing

her i know the conversation won’t be


like with a black art seminar nearly a

decade earlier they spoke of the

challenges of being black in america

what it meant to be a black artist and

the power of protest

lawrence spoke about black artists

feeling an obligation to the black

community and he said if they are

sensitive to this then their expression

moves out beyond the black consciousness

and benefits everybody angelo some that

summed it up by saying start at home and

spread it abroad

they both spoke about the pressures they

felt as artists to have their art speak

for the black community

jacob lawrence worried that some of the

scenes and imagery he used in his work

would speak to the black community but

could be read as stereotypes outside of


um maya angelou sort of expounded on

that to say that

i am sometimes criticized for writing a

poem about a leaf when the whole forest

is on fire sometimes i say to hell with

it and go on but she says she often sees

young people on a one-way train to


and that she can’t ignore the

responsibility she feels to let her art

speak for them

she said if things were different in

this yet to be united states i would be

free to talk about a sunrise without

saying that it is rising on a noose

hanging high and casting a shadow on the


um she ended on a more

positive note

when she spoke of her production of a

raise and raisin in the sun and she said

we have changed in 20 years we have

risked more

we now see the black man and black woman

as human beings in process we are all in


so these um artists conversations really

just continued into 1982

when ramir bearden came to rinalda he

came in october of 1982 and renata

featured an exhibit of paintings by

bearden um

he pleased standing room only audiences

with anecdotes about the harlem

renaissance and his years in paris

he was unpretentious about his success

and penetrating in his insights about


the french have a saying he said if you

fill life it’s a tragedy if you think

about it it’s comedy

the art of painting has no place for


like the visit by lawrence this program

with bearden also featured a

conversation with maya angelou

and unlike with the talk with lawrence

this one was recorded so we have this

artifact the event that lives on

the video quality is terrible but you

know we still have their words and they

talk about how their art speaks the

human condition

that they deal with the complexities of

life not just the black experience

i’m gonna see if i can


this video hopefully it will work

hopefully y’all can hear this


and some of the others that you would

call them leaving

and since you do not make that

discrimination just call me in the



i write through the back experience


all right

so i’m hearing we’re not able to hear

this and my volume is turned all the way

up so


when you

hit share screen did you enable


yeah i see that now

okay so you might try that or you can


summarize for us whatever most


let’s try this one more time

i’m going to remind you just a bit

all the black communities


i don’t

mind at all

being called a black artist


when pearlstein

and some of the others that you would

call them leading white artists

and since you do not make that


just call me an american


i write through the black experience

again because that’s what i know

and i

believe it is better for any artist


use the materials with which he or she

is most familiar

i’m always talking about the human

condition what it is like to be a human


what makes us weak what makes us laugh

what doesn’t

how we sometimes make it over


i too feel if i’m described as a black

artist i am black and i am

a poet

uh if i’m described as a

woman artist i am a woman and i am

a writer


those two phrases however do not

completely contain me

i am other than

a black woman artist

i am

an american i’m a human being

i’m a mother i’m somebody’s lover i’m a

good friend and a sister and a daughter

and i’m tall and having if one is going

to say why not

maya angelou is a tall writer

all right so hopefully you could hear

some of that but um they were both

talking about how they felt being

described as

a black artist and

maya angelou said that you know she was

more than a black woman artist those two

words couldn’t contain her

but she went on to say that

she still felt if she was part

of any community it was the black

community that’s the community she felt

most connected to

they both talked about their experiences

in harlem and how freeing it was to

create art in a black community

maya angelou described first going to

harlem and she said i couldn’t believe

there were that many black people in the

world it was a kind of affirmation that

it was all right to be black i dared a

lot it gave me the right to be bodacious

and i brought it back to winston-salem

i’m going to

end here um with an excerpt from maya

angelou’s poem still i rise published in

1978 and this was the inspiration for

the exhibit title

i hope to share more of these stories

with you next year when the exhibit

opening opens

and we can open this up to any questions


thanks for attending today

i see one question here

um from that says can you describe more

specifically where five row was located


explain its name

so five row was was located the best way

i can describe it is it was located um

where silas creek parkway is now leading


the university

um it was scary yes we can we can see

your presenter notes which isn’t a big

deal but

um yeah i can i’ll just stop sharing

because i’m done thank you

all right

um and five row um also can you explain

its name so fibro got its name because

it was originally

um two rows of five houses that’s where

the name came from five row


barry can you talk a little bit about i

understand reynolda applied for a grant

not too long ago to have some of these


digitized and sharpened

like that

video clip can you talk about what it

would mean to reynolda

to have that accomplished

yeah so we um recently applied for a

grant to have some of our audio visual

material including like the video i

shared today


redone digitized a lot of them are on

the original vhs tapes

um over the years you know they’ve been

used they haven’t always been stored in

the best capabilities and they need to

be professionally digitized so that we

can share them

through programs like this um the maya

angelou mayor bearded one in particular

was digitized a number of years ago

um but we think now technologies have

changed and they may be able to

clean the video quality up a little bit

improve the audio

um maybe brighten it up so it doesn’t

look like they’re in the witness

protection program so that we can

continue continue to share

these programs that happen in the past

to current

museum audience

okay so we’re getting a question of

where did the five row church end up um

it ended up i can’t describe the area

where it ended up and it did end up


completely covered and re-built to the

point that it was not recognizable as

the five-row church and in recent years

it’s been completely destroyed so it’s

not there any longer

so do you have a list of the artists and

art that will be part of the exhibit

will there also be contemporary artists

represented so i haven’t finalized the

object list quite yet for the

um exhibition

there will be romero bearden in there

for sure um

i’m not sure which one yet and we just

had a recent acquisition of a bearden

but it’s primarily going to be

an archival show so

most of the sources in there are going

to be a photograph