What’s Happening at the Library? Clark County inspires summer exhibit

Published 11:29 am Monday, May 14, 2018

By John Maruskin

A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune to meet James Robinson at a meeting of the Winchester Black History and Heritage Committee here at the library.

Robinson is a photographer and he is locally famous as the proprietor of Pee Wee’s Jazz Club, which used to be a hot destination in Winchester for music lovers.

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He was kind enough to bring the library three copies of a new book compiled by the Winchester Black History and Heritage Committee, “The African American Pictorial History of Clark County, Kentucky.”

This is a marvelous book. It is a portrait of Winchester’s black community filled with beauty and energy despite the fact during the time these photographs were taken the people in them endured systematic neglect and personal denigration.

If a picture really is worth 1,000 words, the 12 photographs of the industrial barrens that surround the Poynterville area of Winchester are stark explanations of how Winchester’s Black Community has been disregarded and marginalized.

The rest of the book is a tribute to their integrity, their loyalty and their spirit.

As Joyce Morton writes in her introduction: “Despite years of oppression, African American citizens of Winchester and Clark County still managed to make important advances on their own and, indeed, significant contributions to society as a whole. Not only have those achievements received little recognition, many still view the black community in a negative light…This pictorial history is an effort to document and illustrate some of the achievements of our community.”

Come to the library and take a close look at this book. You’ll see people you know. You’ll see people you like, personally and professionally, doing things we all do, going to school, celebrating, going to church, mugging for the camera wearing a funny hat.

The African American Pictorial History of Clark County, KY is not only a tribute to the black community, it is tangible proof of our common humanity.

This book inspired me.

Here’s how: Every June and July during the Adult Summer Reading Program, the library sponsors an art show open to all citizens of Clark County. The show usually highlights paintings and drawing. This year, however, in light of the photographs in the African American Pictorial History, the exhibit will be devoted to photographs by Clark County residents, photographs about our lives.

The library invites all residents of Clark County to bring in pictures of families, parties, civic and social groups, important events, sports, recreation, businesses, restaurants, night clubs, schools, anything that represents a personally memorable moment.

Everyone is invited to participate. Please attach a piece of paper to the back of the photograph explaining who or what is in the picture, the name of the person who owns the picture, and a contact phone number or email address. Cards identifying people and places in the photographs will be made for each picture.

If you don’t want me to use the original photograph, please contact me before you bring it in, and I will scan the photo, return it to you and hang the copy.

If possible, bring the picture in framed with a wire across the back and ready to hang on a wall. If you do not have a frame for your picture, the library has some frames to loan for the show.

I will begin accepting photographs starting Monday, May 21, in the afternoon, and I will keep taking pictures until Monday, July 2.

If you have any questions about this exhibit, please contact me at john.clarkbooks@gmail.com or call, 744-5661, ext. 110. If I am not in when you call, leave a message and I will return your call as soon as I can.

Let’s see ourselves together. The library, the archive of this community, is the perfect place to do just that.

John Maruskin is director of adult services at the Clark County Public Library. He can be reached at john.clarkbooks@gmail.com.