Borough President Antonio Reynoso celebrated the return of the “Brooklyn is Africa” art exhibit at Borough Hall, which opened on Feb. 29 as a way of honoring the rich history of Black Brooklynites throughout Kings County.
In partnership with the Cultural Museum of African Art, this year’s exhibit showcases a select few of the rare and historical African art and artifacts from famed collector Eric Edwards — and tells the story of “Survival + Persistence = Resistance.”
Edwards’ collection spans over 3,000 items from all 54 African countries, and documents Black history through art.
“To have all of these artifacts directly from every country in Africa — to be able to display it in Borough Hall — is an honor of a lifetime,” Reynoso told Brooklyn Paper. “What I really want to do is show young people the power that comes from their history and ancestry.”
The exhibit, debuting during Black History Month, gives a first-hand account of the enormous contributions that Black Americans have made towards the history of social justice, as well as cultural makeup of modern society.
“When we talk about resistance — we are not gonna allow for the stories written by others to dictate who we are,” the Beep said. “What you are seeing here is the stories written by the people themselves; Black history written by Black people.”
The night featured refreshments from locally sourced eats, a jazz performance by Patsy Clark and Friends, and a dance called “Thank You” performed by the Jamal Gaines Creative Outlet Team to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington.
Artists and performers also paid specific homage to the victims of the Birmingham Church bombing on its 60th anniversary.
“This celebration and exhibit is about honoring the many people and cultures of the African diaspora that have made their home here in Brooklyn, whether generations ago or just a year,” said Reynoso. “For thousands of years, the stories of our African ancestors have survived erasure and persecution through art and artifacts — and Eric Edwards’ collection of pieces help us celebrate the mark all of Africa has made on the world today.”
Following opening night, the exhibit is free and open to the public from Feb. 24 until March 3. It will be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. every day, and for extended hours on March 1, from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Brooklynites can expect to see Edwards’ collection on display in a Brooklyn-based museum soon, as announced at the kickstart of the “Brooklyn is Africa” event.
“My contribution is to put this collection forward and to deliver the message that we have so much to bring us together. There should in no way be this incredible division we have in the world,” Edwards told Brooklyn Paper.