Center for Community Arts Exhibit ‘History Speaks’ Opens Jan. 18

CAPE MAY – The Center for Community Arts (CCA) once again presents an exhibit in association with the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) that highlights and illuminates African-American life and history in Cape May and the surrounding region.

This year’s exhibit, in the Carroll Gallery of the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., is entitled “History Speaks: From the Underground Railroad to Segregated Schools to Urban Renewal — Hear the Voices of Cape May’s African-American Community.” It tells the story of Cape May’s African-American community from its earliest days to the present, using the words of people who knew that history best. The voices and stories have been preserved through videos, oral histories and printed documents. The quotes are gleaned from four current projects of the Center for Community Arts:

A guided walking tour highlighting buildings that were key to the business, religious, social and educational life of Cape May’s African-American community;

60 recorded oral history interviews of current and former residents of the community;

Research conducted as a part of CCA’s work to preserve and rehabilitate the Franklin Street School, a segregated elementary school built in 1927;

Research and development of a self-guided driving/bike tour highlighting the role of Cape May in the Underground Railroad.

People who lived in Cape May or played a key role in the area tell the story of the antebellum period and the Underground Railroad, discuss segregated schools, the dozens of African-American businesses and the role of black churches in the community. They describe everyday life in a beloved beach town when about one-third the population was African-American. The story continues through urban renewal, when much of the black community and many of its businesses were displaced. Artifacts, documents and photographs housed in the John and Janet Nash Archives, which are maintained by CCA, are also part of the exhibit.

The public is invited to a free exhibit opening for “Center for Community Arts Celebrates 20 Years of History” on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 18 at 4 p.m., at the Carroll Gallery in the Carriage House at the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington Street. The exhibit is open Saturdays, Jan. 16 to Feb. 6 and Feb. 20, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.; Saturdays, Feb. 13 and March 26, from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Saturdays, Feb. 27 through March 19, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 14 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Sunday, March 20, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.; Monday, Feb. 15, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.; Friday, March 25, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.; Mondays through Thursdays, March 21 through March 31, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.; Monday through Friday, April 1-8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays, April 2 and 9, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sundays, April 3 and 10, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This exhibit is sponsored by the Center for Community Arts (CCA), in association with the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC).

CCA is a multicultural educational non-profit organization whose arts and humanities programs foster creativity, community building, and appreciation for the rich diversity of our world. The Center’s Community History Program is dedicated to preserving, interpreting and celebrating Cape May’s African-American heritage through exhibits, tours, and its John and Janet Nash African-American History Archive. The Center is currently rehabilitating the Franklin Street School, a Cape May African-American Historic Site, to house a community cultural center, runs youth arts programs and operates WCFA-LP 101.5 FM, a community radio station. For further information, call 609-884-7525 or access CCA’s web site at

MAC is a multifaceted not-for-profit organization committed to promoting the preservation, interpretation, and cultural enrichment of the Cape May region for its residents and visitors. MAC membership is open to all. For information about MAC’s year-round schedule of tours, festivals, and special events, call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278, or visit MAC’s Web site at