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Local

Batavia's Depot Museum celebrates the city's black heritage

New exhibit, programs highlights local African-American history

Logan Street Church wedding, circa 1940. Photo courtesy of Ruth Tousan.
Logan Street Church wedding, circa 1940. Photo courtesy of Ruth Tousan.

BATAVIA The Batavia Depot Museum will open for the season on March 2 with a new exhibit Community, Culture and Conversations; African American Heritage in Batavia, according to a news release from the museum.

The exhibit will explain why early African Americans decided to call Batavia home, and what their lives were like here after the Civil War to today. The opening reception is March 5, 5 to 7 p.m. at 155 Houston Street. The exhibit will be on display through Aug. 2.

According to the release, the exhibit will highlight historic Batavians such as John Ozier and James Stewart, as well as share the stories from today’s African American community such as Ed and Ruth Tousana, Nicholas Brooks and Corey Williams.

It was important for the Depot Curator, Amber Foster, not only highlight the accomplishments of Batavians but explore how the African American community helped shaped Batavia into the city it is today, the release stated.

“Black history is not just a month of history. It is every day. It’s American history. That is why it is important that the Depot continues to develop the narrative of the entire Batavia community,” she stated in the release.

This exhibition, and the programming that accompanies it, represents a new effort to highlight some of Batavia’s lesser-known histories, the release stated.

“This exhibit has been a long time coming and is just the first step in our five-year plan of increased diversity and inclusion in the Depot Museum’s exhibits and collections,” stated Batavia Depot Museum Director Jennifer Putzier.

For more information about the exhibit or related programs, contact the Depot Museum by calling 630-406-5274 or visit bataviahistoricalsociety.org/events. Register for programs at bataviaparks.org.

Related Programs:

Elizabeth Keckley, Seamstress: March 29, at 1 p.m. at the Civic Center Bartholomew Room, 327 W, Wilson Street. Free.

Learn about Elizabeth Keckley, who is most well known as Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker. Keckley was an accomplished seamstress who bought her own freedom with her talents in 1855 and built a business that employed 20 women. The presentation is brought to Batavia with the help of the Illinois Humanities Council.

Connection with Culture; History Biking Tour: May 5, 5 p.m. at the Lodge at Laurelwood, 800 N. River St. The fee is $5.

This tour will cover Northeast Batavia and point out places important to Batavia’s African American history. Please bring a bike you are comfortable with as bicycles will not be provided.

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