‘More Dreamers of the Golden Dream’ to Help Mark Black History Month at UC Riverside

A public event Wednesday, Feb. 25 will showcase the stories of Riverside’s Eastside neighborhood.

Douglas McCulloh pictures clockwise: John Bennett at Orange Valley Lodge #13, where he attended a temporary Freedom School; Arthur Littleworth,president of the Riverside School Board in 1965; Lowell School on Victoria Avenue, built in 1912 to allow white students to leave Irving School, only a few blocks away.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — UC Riverside will mark Black History Month with an exhibition of photos and stories of the Riverside’s rich history — especially stories from the racially mixed Eastside of Riverside near the campus.

The event and reception — from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25 in HUB 302 South, is free and open to the public. Parking will be complimentary.

“More Dreamers of the Golden Dream” illustrates Riverside’s rich African American history and the changes in individual lives caused by the forces of migration and racial politics, as told through essays written by UCR Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing Susan Straight, who is an award winning novelist and a Riverside native. She worked with photographer Douglas McCulloh.

“It is her love story in some fashion, to the place where she grew up, got married, and had her children,” said McCulloh.

Susan Straight sits on the porch of her home in Riverside.  Skye Moorhead + David Johnston

Susan Straight sits on the porch of her home in Riverside.
Skye Moorhead + David Johnston

Stories tell of gathering spots in front yards and former grocery stores, and a mixed neighborhood where neighbors traded okra and tamales.

One story, “Sacred Ground,” is about the integration of Riverside Unified after a school burned, forcing community leaders to adapt rather quickly to the new reality. It is the subject of a new book published by the Inlandia Institute called “No Easy Way.”

The Riverside Art Museum is a co-partner in the project, as is Leslie Caroline who created the website www.riversider.org .

“We want to invite the Riverside community to join us for an exhibit reception as we honor our Riverside living legends and the history of the Eastside,” said Ken Simons, director of the African Student Programs office at UC Riverside.

Parking will be free, and the food will be provided by Zacatecas, one of Riverside’s most popular restaurants.

The theme of the 2015 National Black History Month is: “A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture.”

Simons said that many of the people chronicled in the stories and photos will be at the reception to talk with guests. The event will also draw representatives from some of the historically black churches on Riverside’s Eastside.

Douglas McCulloh is an artist, writer, and curator and a three-time recipient of project support from the California Council for the Humanities. He exhibits widely in the U.S., Europe, China, and Mexico.

Susan Straight has published eight novels. Last year she received the Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes.

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