The Huntington High School and J. Taylor Finley Middle School main lobbies have featured colorful and informative displays during recent weeks with dozens of artifacts that have helped recognize the culture and contributions of outstanding people of color in the United States.
The attention-grabbing 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 most engaging personalities in America’s history.
“The Black History Month exhibit is a comprehensive look at our country’s rich history of African-American influence in the areas of music and the arts, science and medicine, literature, politics and sports,” Finley Principal John Amato said. “Thanks to Rev. Bernadette Watkins for putting it together every year.”
The items on display came almost exclusively from Rev. Watkins’ personal collection and were specially selected for display at the schools. The longtime local resident said she views Black History Month as an important teaching tool. She hopes students stop and look at the artifacts and learn from them. “I would like them know about their heritage and to be interested in learning more about it,” she said.
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 more than a century old.
“Rev. Watkins always puts on an awe inspiring display in our lobby each February,” Huntington High School Principal Brenden Cusack said. “Each year, it seems there are new items from which to learn. It has been said many times over, Black History is American History. Nothing shows this more than the beautiful and informative display to which we are treated each year. I am grateful for all of the effort that goes into this presentation and for the students who put in their time to assist.”
Rev. Watkins said there are plans to possibly 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’m always looking to add to my collection,” she said. “I find many things of value in antique shops all over Long Island.”