FAIRFIELD — Visitors to the Black History Month exhibit at Mount Calvary Baptist Church can peruse the past while getting a glimpse of the future.
Housed in a room off the He Brews It Cafe next to the church, the exhibit includes everything from artwork, books and DVDs, to an African-American quilt, photos and a monitor that features different volumes of “Eyes on the Prize,” a 14-hour documentary that looked at the civil rights movement as well as America at the racial crossroads.
The church has always celebrated Black History Month, said Carrie Donaldson, who heads up the exhibit. Two years ago the exhibit made its debut.
As the exhibit grows, the goal is to create an African-American History Museum in Solano County, said the Rev. Claybon Lea Jr., the church’s pastor.
Much of the exhibit was donated by Donaldson and other church members. Only two items are returned when the exhibit is up, the quilt and the large portrait, “The Worst Sight,” featuring an African queen spotting slave ships on the horizon. Those ships are reflected in her eyes.
The late Bill Thurston, who taught at Solano Community College, as well as serving on its board, donated several books to the church, which also maintains a library of African-American literature that “rivals that of any library in the county,” Lea said.
While visitors will see images of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Barack Obama, they can also see a photo of the late Rev. Claybon Lea Sr. and his wife Carol Lea, dressed in authentic African clothing. There’s also a picture of Col. James Warren of Vacaville, a member of the Tuskegee airmen, a group of African-American pilots who fought in World War II.
“Each year, it (the exhibit) grows piece by piece,” Carol Lea said.
“We are capturing one moment at a time,” Donaldson said.
“It’s educational, informative, provoking and provocative,” said Claybon Lea Jr.
Walking through the exhibit can bring a variety of emotions. Seeing the slave ships grabs him like a vice grip, he said.
At the same time, he knows the exhibit reflects American and world history. There’s a dichotomy in that both the beautiful and ugly side of humanity are presented, he said.
“The model has been what my father gave us,” he said. “People without knowledge of history are like a tree without roots.”
Like his father, Lea has made several trips to Africa and has brought home items that are part of the exhibit. While there, he’s also walked where the slaves plodded, visiting slave castles in Ghana.
All are welcome to visit the exhibit, which is open 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sundays at 1745 Enterprise Drive, Suite K.
For more information, call 423-9494.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.