Nia Slater-Bookhart '19

Nia Slater-Bookhart

Nia Slater-Bookhart

This project still leaves me speechless, and I know seeing the exhibit will do the same. The amount of worked poured into this has been tremendous to watch, and even more so to be a part of it. William Bullard's collection of photographs is truly important in the way that it illuminates the lives of people of color in Worcester in the early 1900s. Through this exhibit, a wider audience will be able to see the sitters behind Bullard's camera lens be brought life and why these narratives are necessary.

As a woman of color, this project has a profound impact on me personally. Throughout my research, I always reflected on my grandmother's home. When I was younger, it seemed like every wall space was filled top to bottom with photographs of my entire family. One photograph that always stuck out to me was of my great-grandmother as a child, and how I jokingly thought, “Well she is my great-grandmother, she could have never been a child like me.” This project allowed me to understand why my grandmother held on to so many old photographs, and the importance of telling our family's history.

As someone who is deciding to major in History, my personal research I found was engaging and intense. I did research on two Bullard photographs. One of them are the young Harra sister, Louise and Martha, or as affectionately called “Little Ladies”. The second photograph, which myself and others only could speculate, were of a mixed-race religious musical group possibly performing in Holden, MA for “Old Home Days”. With both of photographs, I hit many hurdles. I yearned to know every piece of information of the people in the photographs, and felt discouraged when I couldn't. Professor Greenwood helped me to understand when you are doing intense research, you may not always get all the answers, but it is about the bigger picture that you are trying to present.

The bigger picture to me is something I cherish, along with many other students: The work put into this exhibit allows for a wider audience to be expose and understand the lives of people of color in Worcester, and ultimately how it connects to the broader narrative of America's history. This isn't just African-American or people of color history in Worcester, but this is America's history and it should never be silenced.

"Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise." - Maya Angelou