Hometown Black Heroes to Be Honored September 17th at Albany Museum of Art

Staff Report

Monday, September 12th, 2022

Six local individuals will be recognized for making a difference through their tireless work for civil rights, social justice, and a better community at Hometown Black Heroes Family Day at the Albany Museum of Art.

The event is 10 am-1 pm on Saturday, Sept 17, and is free and open to the public. The AMA is located at 311 Meadowlark Drive.

Guests of honor will be the Hon. Herbert Phipps, retired Georgia Court of Appeals judge; Rutha Harris, one of the original Freedom Singers; Charles Sherrod, a former Albany city commissioner; Shirley Sherrod, executive director, Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education and a member of the newly formed U.S. Department of Agriculture Equity Commission; Darrell Sabbs, community benefits director for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, and Frank Wilson, retired executive director of the Albany Civil Rights Institute.

“With the marvelous tributes to national and international difference-makers in the Fighters for Freedom: William H. Johnson Picturing Justice exhibition as an inspirational setting, the Albany Museum of Art is pleased to recognize and honor these six deserving individuals from our community who have positively impacted not only our Southwest Georgia region, but our state and nation,” AMA Executive Director Andrew J. Wulf, Ph.D., said. “They are true inspirations to current and future generations in our community and region.”

Fighters for Freedom: William H. Johnson Picturing Justice is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Generous support for this project is provided by Art Bridges. All artworks are from the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum; gift of the Harmon Foundation.

“We are happy to partner with Albany State University and the Dougherty County School System in this event that recognizes these influential individuals,” AMA Director of Education and Public Programming Annie Vanoteghem said. “ASU students will be sharing their performing talents at the event, and DCSS students will, in the vein of William H. Johnson, display their visual tributes to our local heroes.”

A special highlight of the event will be a performance by Rutha Harris, one of the original Freedom Singers formed 60 years ago at then Albany State College. The Freedom Singers, who fused church-style a cappella singing with protest songs, drew aid and support to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the Civil rights Movement. Through Harris’s powerful voice, the story of those turbulent times and the subsequent trials and triumphs for rights and justice have resonated in the decades since.

Also performing at Hometown Black Heroes Family Day will be the Dougherty High School Chorale and Saints of God House of Worship Choir. AMA Director of Curatorial Affairs Katie Dillard will share insights on the Fighters for Freedom: William H. Johnson Picturing Justice exhibition with those attending.

“The juxtaposition of the national heroes depicted in Fighters for Freedom with our local heroes will remind us that we can all make a difference in our communities,” Vanoteghem said.