Coinciding with black history month, Darlene Strong opens her exhibit, "The Life and Times of Sand Hill" on Jan. 26 at the Cumberland County Museum and Archives.
This 10-panel exhibit explores the social, economic and cultural time of the black community over the past 200 years.
"The past helps us mold the future," Strong said.
Information was gathered from the archives, interviews and personal accounts and pictures collected by Strong.
"Sand Hill is a tribute to my father, Donald Cooke, founder of Cooke's Garbage disposal," Strong said. "He was a man who led by example. Slavery is a system, a mindset. Systems can change, mindsets can shift and today we hear the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he looked down the corridors of time he said, let freedom reign."
The exhibit builds on two ground-breaking exhibits by Strong - "Colour Me Free," featured at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in 2004 in partnership with Canadian Heritage, and "Connections," which had its debut at the Cornerstone Culture Centre in 2007 in partnership with the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Nova Scotia ArtsSmarts.
Long before Canada became a nation stood Sand Hill, nestled among the tree-lined streets in the highlands now known as part of Amherst incorporated in 1899. Prior to this the area was a township in 1759 named after Lord Jeffery Amherst.
"Blacks were encouraged to live in the highlands (Sand Hill) rather than perhaps the more perceived prominent areas of the community at that time. The blacks settled, purchased land, built farms, raised their families, found gainful employment and left a legacy for the next generation. Early records note some black settlers in Cumberland County in 1827. Slavery was abolished on Aug. 28, 1833 through royal assent by King William the fifth and the Slavery Abolition remains," Strong said.
Today, Sand Hill has diminished significantly in number due to death, aging, migration of its people and has given way to change. Many landmarks are gone, such as Highland View Regional Hospital, Interprovincial School for the deaf and some of the older homes.
The exhibit will run from Jan. 26 to Feb. 27 at the Cumberland County Museum.