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The African-American Experience in the Adirondacks

Presented in collaboration with the Adirondack Diversity Initiative and Adirondack Diversity Solutions

August 6, 2018 | 7:30 pm

Fulton Fryar, Amy Godine, Dr. Alice P. Green, and Sally Svenson– moderated by Dr. Donathan L. Brown

The lives of African-Americans in the Adirondacks are inextricably intertwined with the broader history of this region and socioeconomic trends in our nation, and yet their stories are often ignored or forgotten in the historical record. Like so many others, African-Americans came to the Adirondacks seeking opportunities for work and a better way of life – they dug iron ore in Moriah, they “took the cure” in Saranac Lake sanatoriums, they entertained summer vacationers in Lake George, and they built homesteads in the unforgiving High Peaks wilderness. They did all these things and more under the burden of racial discrimination and social exclusion. New scholarship, reporting, and advocacy seeks to raise awareness of the African-American experience in the Adirondack Park, bringing these fascinating lives to the forefront as we continue to grapple with questions of diversity and inclusion in our region

Our panelists have each in their own way shined a spotlight on the contributions and experiences of Black Adirondackers past and present. Fulton Fryar was a young man when he ventured away from home for the first time to attend the Seagle Music Colony in Schroon Lake during the 1950s. As the first African-American student there, he was housed separately from the other students in a small addition he called “The Closet,” now on exhibit at the Adirondack Experience. As a writer for Adirondack Life magazine for the past three decades, Amy Godine has reported on the lives of numerous African-Americans in the park, highlighting their accomplishments as well as the challenges they faced through decades of Jim Crow culture. Sally Svenson recently published Blacks in the Adirondacks, a meticulously researched history of African-Americans inside the Blue Line that also explores the wider context of the national trends that brought them here. Dr. Alice P. Green, executive director of the Center for Law and Justice, has spent her career advocating for social justice for African-Americans in New York State. Growing up a minority in the Adirondack mining town of Witherbee, Green speaks from personal experience of the continuing discrimination embedded in our culture and looks to a way forward. Dr. Donathan L. Brown, our moderator, is Director of Faculty Diversity and Development at Ithaca College’s School of Humanities and Sciences. He is also CEO of Adirondack Diversity Solutions, a consulting firm dedicated to diversifying the Adirondacks through strategic, sustainable growth. The Adirondack Diversity Initiative, which is collaborating with ADKX and Adirondack Diversity Solutions on the presentation of this program, develops and promotes strategies to help the Adirondack Park become more welcoming and inclusive of all New Yorkers, both visitors and permanent residents.

Monday Evening Lectures are held in the Auditorium.
Free for Members; $5 for non-members.
Visitors with an admissions sticker for the day receive free admission to the lecture.
Limited seating on a first-come, first-serve basis; overflow seating for live streamed video of program available