LI Park Exhibits Celebrate the Achievements of Artists, Scientists, and Other African Americans


Mathematical modeling of the contours of the Earth by Gladys West paved the way for GPS devices – a relief to countless lost and wayward drivers.

Warren Washington’s studies of the atmosphere help scientists deal with climate change.

Rodney Stotts works to save eagles and other raptors in the Anacostia section of Washington, DC

The contributions of West, Washington, Stotts and other African Americans – often overlooked or ignored – are celebrated this month as part of Black History Month exhibits and programs at Jones Beach in Wantagh and across other Long Island state parks.

“I think we need to celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of African Americans in developing new technologies and new scientific concepts that we use today,” Jeanne Haffner, curator at the Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center, told Newsday. “It’s also about inspiring the young people who come to the center.”

Black History Month programs are planned at New York State Parks. Black History Month has been celebrated in the United States since 1915.

On Long Island, workshops, exhibits and films are also scheduled at Connetquot River State Park Preserve in Oakdale, Hempstead Lake State Park in West Hempstead, Long Island State Parks Regional Headquarters in Babylon, Nissequogue River State Park in Kings Park and Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park in Oyster Bay.

The Jones Beach Nature Center presents a poster exhibit, “Heroes of the Great Outdoors,” created by assistant environmental educator Tiffani Rushford, highlighting the work of West, Washington and Rue Matt, founder of Outdoor Afro, a national program that seeks to foster Black leadership in nature programs.

Part of the exhibit examines the impact of racial and income inequality on Long Island schools. “Promoting racially diverse learning environments…will help cultivate the next generation of [science, technology, energy and math] leaders,” Haffner said.

The center will premiere the 2020 film “The Falconer” on February 26, written and directed by Annie Kaempfer, about Stotts, a former drug dealer whose life changed when he discovered his love of birds. The documentary will also be available from February 24 to 28 on the center’s website, www.jonesbeachenc.org/.

Connetquot River State Park offers several day programs, including “Pioneers in Science” on February 13 and “Planet Explorers” on February 25. The life and work of Brooklyn-born artist Jean-Michel Basquiat will be honored on the 19th with a workshop where participants will be invited to create self-portraits inspired by the painter’s neo-expressionist style.

All programs require pre-registration; information is available on the Connetquot Park website, parks.ny.gov/parks/connetquotriver.

Janet Soley, president of the nonprofit Friends of Connetquot River State Park Preserve, said the programs, along with Women’s History Month events in March, help recognize the accomplishments of obscure pioneers. Americans.

“It’s respectful, it’s historic,” Soley said. “It’s important to appreciate our journey, our heritage, where we come from, who we are.”

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