The Huntington High School and J. Taylor Finley Middle School main lobbies have featured colorful and informative displays in recent weeks with dozens of artifacts that have helped recognize the culture and contributions of outstanding people of color in the United States.
The eye-catching displays were created by the Rev. Bernadette Watkins of Huntington Outreach Ministries to help celebrate Black History Month and educate young people and visitors to the two buildings about some of the leading personalities in America’s history.
The items on display came almost exclusively from Rev. Watkins’ personal collection and were carefully selected for display at the schools. The longtime local resident said she sees Black History Month as an important teaching tool. She hopes students stop and look at the artifacts and learn from them. “I want them to know about their heritage and to be inquisitive about it,” she said.
“Once again, we thank Rev. Watkins and her family for creating the Black History Month display,” Finley Principal John Amato said. “The display always delights the students and staff as it highlights prominent African-Americans from pop-culture, the arts, politics, science and medicine. The display is an annual event to which we all look forward.”
The two exhibits have featured historic stamps, photos, books, arts and crafts, posters, jewelry, figurines, carvings, compact discs, record albums, masks, dolls and statues. Profiles and photos of great Americans of color were also displayed as were stories about local slaves and other interesting facts and vignettes. One of the items is about 110 years old.
“We are so proud to have our annual Black History Celebration display in our main lobby,” said Brenden Cusack, principal of Huntington High School. “The time and effort that was taken to put this together is truly inspiring. The display serves to outline and highlight important moments and individuals in history who have contributed to our country in so many significant ways. I am especially grateful to Rev. Watkins and to our students who participated in building the display, including Shawn Powell, Jason Chapas, Andy Garcia, Oscar Bonilla, Jack Fuerst, Kevin Velasquez and Jose Turcios. It is a beautiful collection and I hope everyone will take some time to enjoy it.”
Rev. Watkins hopes to set-up a display in a third school in the future. The local community fixture said she has acquired many items over the years that are perfect these displays. “I look for things wherever I go,” she said. “I find many of them in antique shops.”