SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The opening ceremony for the new exhibit Voices of Resilience: The Intersection of Women on the Move was held at the Springfield Museums Saturday morning.
The ceremony honoring the achievements of women of color, past, and present attracted a large crowd during its first day at the Blake Court of the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts.
Guest curator Janine Fondon, Bay Path Assistant Professor and Chair of Undergraduate Communication, as well as the project scholars Dr. Demetria Shabazz and Dr. Lucie K. Lewis, were all in attendance.
Voices of Resilience celebrates the intersecting lives of women in Massachusetts and other areas who have made a difference and changed the course of history. The exhibition highlights the interconnected stories of social, educational, and cultural change defined by women, women of color and others who are inclusive.
A generation ago, Carrie Roberson of Springfield became the first African-American manager at the iconic Steiger’s department store. She told 22News, “I am so proud but in my fondest dream I never thought I would make it when I was just working to help the young black ladies to see where they can go in life.”
Many admiring young women would congratulate Roberson for her achievements, opening closed doors to other African-American women on her day. Nakai Fondon, the daughter of the exhibit’s guest curator, Janine Fondon, praised the African-American women being honored as inspirational and life-changing.
“It has inspired me so greatly, because I myself as a young woman of color, so myself doing even great things, motivations that I can do it in time,” Fondon expressed.
Visitors will get to see a timeline of women’s diverse history along with photos that provide a new context about women’s rights and civil rights. “This exhibit stands on the shoulders of our ancestors as we all walk into the future with the hope of collective change,” said Janine Fondon. Janine’s grandmother Miriam Kirkaldy who came from Ellis Island will be highlighted along with other women in the area who were apart of making a change.
In this year when we commemorate the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution granting women the right to vote, it is important to reflect on how African-American women and other women have stepped up to shape our civic culture and political imaginary over time.
From Elizabeth ‘Mum Bett’ Freeman to Dr. Ruth Loving, this exhibition invites us to see women on the move for freedom and justice.Dr. Demetria Shabazz
Local and national guest speakers attending:
- Actress Laiona Michelle
- Freedom Rider Jean Denton Thompson
- Gentle Deer Running
- Poet Maria Luisa Arroyo
- Denise Jordan
- Cynthia Simison
- Reenactor Maria Furlow
- Mother Carrie Roberson
A salute will be included to honor LuJuanna Hood, the founder and executive director of the Pan African American Historical Museum USA who passed away in 2019.
This well received salute to women’s accomplishments will remain on display at the Springfield Museums through April 26.