Researchers from The Bryant Library’s Local History Collection in Roslyn have created a multimedia exhibit that spotlights the village’s Black history in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Carol L. Clarke, the library’s archivist, and Ariel Morabito, the archives assistant, gathered newspaper clippings, pictures and other documents from the library’s historical collection, which began in the early 1950s, to piece together the stories of several Black residents. The digital collection portal, which was added online about a year ago, recounts the stories of Black residents who fought against discrimination while also making contributions to the village.
"As an African-American woman and [someone] interested in Long Island history and particularly the history of Blacks on Long Island, when I started I was curious about what we had in that collection, and it turned out that we really didn’t have much," said Clarke, of South Huntington.
One item is a 104-page memoir written by Eugene Arrell Pearsall, who described the prejudice he faced in school, at work and in public as a Black man when he lived in Roslyn. Pearsall was born in the village in 1908 and left Long Island in the late 1970s. He donated his memoir to the library in 1994.
Morabito, of Huntington, said collecting the histories of the village’s Black residents is ongoing and is happening alongside other projects highlighting them.
"The goals are to involve family members, bring people in and try to get more stories," Morabito said. "To try to get the stories from the minds of those who have lived them."
To make an appointment or to view the online collection, visit www.localhistory.bryantlibrary.org/black-history-portal.