New Black History exhibit at the Mazza Museum

By Sam Rohrs and Devyn Hopkins

The new Black History exhibit at the Mazza Museum went on display on Thursday, Feb. 9, and will stay up for the rest of the semester, showcasing artwork from books that tell stories of heroes and pioneers in black history and culture.

Dan Chudzinski, the Mazza Museum Curator, explained the importance of the pictures on exhibit.

Photo by Taylor Christensen

“Harold Brown was the last living Tuskegee airmen,” Chudzinski said. “He was the first to be integrated into the military.”

Chudzinski explained that after Brown left the military at 21 years old, he became an educator at Columbus State Community College. Brown also wrote a book with his wife about Tuskegee airmen. He traveled to the Mazza Museum in 2018 to talk about his book and do a book signing. He died last month.

Brown is the main focus of the exhibit, but other artwork and books are showcased in the exhibit as well.

Many pieces of art that are displayed are original to the illustrator and have never been displayed before. Chudzinski said that he has to ask himself if the artwork and books pertain to black history and if it goes with a picture book.

“Fighting hatred and segregation,” Chudzinski said when describing the other artwork and books. “Laws were wrong and these people understood that. They had to break the law.”

Chudzinski brought up historical figures such as Ruby Bridges, and Ellen Craft as well as more contemporary artists like Keith Henry Brown.

“Ruby Bridges was the first student to be integrated into the school system,” Chudzinski said. “She had to be escorted to class.”

“Ellen Craft and her husband came up with a plan to escape slavery,” Chudzinski said. “She dressed as an injured man while her husband acted like her servant.”

Photo by Taylor Christensen

Chudzinski explained that Keith Henry Brown donated the book he wrote called Birth of the Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound. The book talks about how Miles Davis changed jazz music.

Brown lives in Brooklyn, New York and has designed and illustrated several jazz CD covers for Christian McBride, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Duke Ellington, The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra among others.

The exhibit also displays a piece of art about the first cross country flight that took place during the Great Depression by contemporary black artist John Holyfield.