A vintage Cleopatra playsuit dress, photos of legendary Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and copies of the first independent black student newspaper at California State University, Northridge are among the cultural artifacts on display in CSUN’s Delmar T. Oviatt Library Exhibit Gallery.
The exhibit, which is titled “Historicizing and Contemporizing the Black Aesthetic: Keeping the Legacy Alive,” was organized as part of the CSUN’s celebration of Black History Month. It will be on display in the second floor, west wing gallery through April 29.
“The exhibit offers a glimpse into elements of black history in fashion, art, print and social and political organizations,” said Theresa White, co-curator and professor in the Department of Africana Studies. “It invites viewers to celebrate the history of what black people have done in the past and are doing today.”
Library Dean Mark Stover said the exhibit helps “bring history to life.”
“It helps us to imagine what life was like back in the day,” said Stover at the exhibit’s opening reception on Feb. 10. The reception included comments from some of the exhibitors, a retrospective on the meaning of Black History Month, a spoken word presentation and a “runway” show highlighting natural hairstyles.
The exhibit features several vintage fashion items including jewelry worn by celebrated dancer and singer Josephine Baker, a Negro Baseball League jacket and a 1970s shirt with images of leaders of the Black Liberation Party. In addition, there are photos and newspaper articles about the founding of the Educational Opportunity Programs and the Departments of Africana and Chicana/o Studies; and memorabilia from the Black Student Union, NABJ-Student Association of Black Communicators and several of the Black Greek-Letter Organizations at CSUN.
“All these artifacts represent a time in history in which African Americans thrived, struggled and created with minimal means,” said Cedric Hackett, co-curator and professor of Africana Studies. He said the exhibit is helping to “keep the legacy alive.”
For more information about CSUN’s Black History Month celebration, contact the Department of Africana Studies at (818) 677-3311.