The purpose was dual in nature. One goal of the evening was to celebrate the heritage of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, often referred to as the NAACP, on its 111th anniversary. Another was to view the work of American artist John Wilson, who in 1952 created a gripping interpretation of the racial terror known as lynching.
How apropos it felt to gather to visualize the pain of injustice with one of our nation’s largest civil rights organizations and fighters for justice.
Leading the event was Dori Dumas, president of the Greater New Haven Branch of the NAACP. Also present was Neil Grasty, president of the Youth Council of the New Haven NAACP and a Hamden High School senior who also is an aspiring museum curator.
Before the event, Grasty worked in conjunction with Lisa Hodermarsky, the Sutphin Family Curator of Prints and Drawings, to study Wilson's work The Incident. The work depicts the lynching of a Black man at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan and the reactions of the family in the foreground.
Both presented on and examined this work of art while Dumas reminded attendees of the rich history and legacy of the NAACP. She stressed a history that has long included (and still includes today) the importance of voting and being counted within the community.
Following the presentation and viewing was a reception with light fare and music. Harriet Alfred, a New Haven Public Schools music educator of 30 years and talented soloist, performed stirring selections for the audience.
Solemn reflections of the past, community fellowship, celebration, and hope for the future resounded throughout the event.