The main lobbies at both Huntington High School and J. Taylor Finley Middle School have been featuring 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 attractive 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.
“As always we are grateful to have Reverend Watkins’ archives on display here at the high school for Black History Month,” Principal Brenden Cusack said. “The collection continues to become more impressive each year as it truly chronicles the challenges and triumphs of African Americans over the course of decades. It is a blessing to have such an installation at Huntington High School and my thanks go out to Reverend Watkins and the many students who assisted with it.”
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.
“Once again, thank you to Bernadette Watkins and her family for putting together the Black History Month exhibit in the blue zone at Finley,” Principal John Amato. “Artifacts from both the Watkins family and Finley students have been displayed showing the significant contributions of African Americans in the fields of medicine, politics, the arts, sports and literature. It’s always an amazing exhibit, which we all stop to look at throughout the week.”
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.”