Lasting legacy

Gilroy honors Black culture at its fifth annual celebration

MOVEMENT Gilroy Center for the Arts celebrates its fifth annual Black History Month celebration through Mar. 2. Art: Louise Shields

This month the Gilroy Arts Alliance gathers the community for its fifth annual celebration of the rich contributions African Americans have made to our national and local tapestry.

Exhibit curator Louise Shields said the theme of this year’s event focused on the Black Migration and its lasting legacy on arts and culture.

“What inspired me is the strength and courage of how thousands of African Americans fled the Deep South—escaping the lynchings, Jim Crow laws, murders, poor living and working conditions for the North, in hopes of a better life for themselves and their families,” Shields says. Through the exhibit Shields and other artists pay tribute to ancestors who paved the way to a better life for generations to come.

“The legacy our ancestors left included music, arts, and literature, which blossomed through creative talents such as Jacob Lawrence, Duke Ellington and poet Zora Neale Hurston,” Shields says. “My great grandmother was also featured in the exhibit. I am told that she migrated from Louisiana with my grandmother.”

Opened since Feb. 2, Gilroy Arts Alliance executive director Kevin Heath says the community response has been amazing.

“The celebration event drew a full house,” Heath says. “Whether it is through the artists who exhibit with us throughout the year, or the rich cultural events we provide, it is always a pleasure to see the community turn our and support cultural arts.”

For more information, visit: or call, 408.842.6999.

Debra Eskinazi
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About Debra Eskinazi
Debra Eskinazi is the editor of South Valley magazine.