"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more when it is in context."
— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project
Caption: Black seamen onboard ship . Miriam Matthews Photograph Collection, African American Museum and Library at Oakland.
SACRAMENTO—Visit the Central Library in Sacramento from January 23 to March 16 for Take Me to the Water, a multimedia exhibit curated by Dr. Caroline Collins that captures the historic panorama of the Black experience with the Pacific Ocean.
The exhibit seeks to recenter the relationship between African Americans, water, and ships, moving beyond the entrenched narrative of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and towards the understanding that Black people have not only existed in the Pacific region for centuries, but played an integral role in the development of Pacific economy and society.
The exhibit will be accompanied by the following series of free public programs:
February 8, 6:30 pm on Zoom: Join us as Dr. Caroline Collins has a Q&A about her exhibit Take Me to the Water: Black Histories of the Pacific with SPL archivist and historian James Scott. The talk will focus on the relationship between African Americans and the Pacific. This zoom-based program encourages audience participation.
February 15, 7 pm on Zoom: Join Sacramento Public Library archivist James Scott and Marcquarie University (Sydney, Australia) Professor of History Chris Dixon as they discuss his recent book, “African Americans and the Pacific War, 1941-1945: Race, Nationality and the Fight for Freedom,” (Cambridge University Press, 2018). This zoom-based program encourages audience participation.
February 24, 1:00 pm at Central Library: Join us in the Sacramento Room at Central Library as Sacramento historian and Emmy-nomiated documentarian Chris Lango discusses a lesser known but vital chapter in the life of Sacramento attorney and civil rights champion Nathaniel S. Colley – his experience in the South Pacific during World War II and how it shaped the course of his life. Lango will use rarely seen archival materials, both in paper and audio-visual, in an effort to bring clarity to this defining period in the life and career of Mr. Colley.
March 16: 1:00 pm at Central Library: Born to a Danish-Jewish father and Afro Caribbean mother in the Virgin Islands at the beginning of the nineteenth-century, William Alexander Leidesdorff sailed both the Atlantic and Pacific, forged fresh trade routes, built influential relationships, and eventually settled in California where he became one of the nation’s first African American millionaires. American River College professor of humanities Michael Harlan shares his research on this figure who – transitioning from mariner to landholder – became one of the most influential figures in the early development of California.
Tickets: Facilitated by the Sacramento Room, the exhibit and all accompanying programs are free and no registration is required. For questions or comments about the series, please contact archivist James Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or 916-264-2795.
Take Me to the Water is toured by Exhibit Envoy, and supported by California Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Learn more at on the library’s website.
This project is supported by a Humanities for All Project Grant.