The idea for the Aint No Half Stepping exhibit came about when photographer Joanne Bealy and writer Evelyn C White stopped by the library and invited the library to be a witness to the cultural life and landscape that makes up Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. Bealy and White had so eloquently written about and photographed this region in their new book Every Goodbye Aint Gone: a photo narrative of Black Heritage in salt Spring Island and asked if we would like to do an exhibition based around it. Of course we jumped at the idea to collaborate with them on this project.
What made this such an enticing subject for the library, was that 153 years ago a group of 800 blacks from all over California came together and migrated from San Francisco up to Canada. This exhibit strives to honor those émigrés and put into context their lives both here and in Canada and speak to what the current political landscape was like here in the 1850’s California that drove them far from their homes. The African American Center is always looking for exhibits that connect the past and the future, the local and the global. This exhibit perfectly does both.
Blacks have long held claims to the land and soul of California, with some of the earliest settlers of the state being of African origin. Of the 44 original settlers of present day Los Angeles, 26 were either of full African ancestry or of mix blood- Spanish and black. Even with this said, California has long had a conflicted and sometimes rocky relationship with blacks. In 1852 blacks in California had doubled in number, “and their material possession in property and businesses had improved at a rate far exceeding that of blacks in the eastern states.”
Enjoy the exhibit-