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Inclusive Exhibit of “Hidden Figures” at Springfield Museums

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New Exhibit—Voices of Resilience: The Intersection of Women on the Move—Opens Feb 15

This exhibit takes an inclusive look at women’s history through highlights from the experiences of women and particularly women of color—Africans, African Americans, Caribbeans, Latinas, and Native Americans.

 - Janine Fondon, Guest Curator

Bringing light to the many hidden histories of women who fought for change helps us all understand a more complete narrative of American history. The Museums value exploring to these stories.

 - Kay Simpson, President and CEO of the Springfield Museums
The Springfield Museums announces a new exhibit—Voices of Resilience: The Intersection of Women on the Move—in honor of Black History Month and Women’s History Month 2020. Voices of Resilience celebrates the intersecting lives of women in Massachusetts and beyond who have changed the course of history. Through highlights of diverse “hidden figures” and narratives, this exhibition explores the collaborative and interconnected stories of social, educational, and cultural change as defined by women, women of color, and others on the move to a more inclusive and just world. An official opening of the exhibit will be celebrated Saturday, February 15, 2020, from 11am to noon, with guest curator Janine Fondon, Bay Path Assistant Professor and Chair of Undergraduate Communication. Tours of the exhibit will follow the opening.
Voices of Resilience, as presented by the Springfield Museums and Bay Path University with collaborators including Encyclopaedia Britannica, United States Postal Service, the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, the YWCA, NAMIC New England, and the African American Female Professors, pays tribute to just a few of the untold and lesser-known stories of women in the area and beyond who used their resilient voices to change their communities and world,” said Fondon, who says that she stands in gratitude as she reflects on the women and who continue to stay on the move to create the world they want to live in. “This exhibit takes an inclusive look at women’s history through highlights from the experiences of women and particularly women of color—Africans, African Americans, Caribbeans, Latinas, and Native Americans.”
The Springfield Museums partnered with Fondon as a natural progression in their ongoing mission to make the museums relevant to all. “Bringing light to the many hidden histories of women who fought for change helps us all understand a more complete narrative of American history. The Museums value exploring these stories,” said Kay Simpson, President and CEO of the Springfield Museums.
Visitors to the exhibit will see the inclusive timeline of women’s diverse history unfold with highlights and photos that provide new context to our knowledge about both women’s rights and civil rights. “The exhibit shares personal stories that matter,” said Fondon. She, as well as other local women, share the stories of their lineage. Fondon highlights her grandmother who came via Ellis Island as well as the stories of more than seventy women in the area and beyond who are making change in a complex world. “This exhibit stands on the shoulders of our ancestors as we all walk into the future with the hope of collective change,” adds Fondon.
Exhibition scholars Dr. Demetria Rougeaux Shabazz and Dr. Lucie Lewis worked together with Fondon, Springfield Museums Acting Curator of Art Maggie North, Springfield Museums Curator of Library and Archives Maggie Humberston, and Power of Women editors Wayne Phaneuf and Joe Carvalho and others to complete the exhibit highlights.
Shabazz, who is a communication scholar and President of Amherst Media’s Board of Directors, notes that the exhibit presents an opportunity to learn about the dynamic ways that women, especially women of color in Western Massachusetts, have pushed passed challenges and created enduring legacies. “In this year when we commemorate the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution granting women the right to vote, it is important to reflect on how African-American women and other women have stepped up to shape our civic culture and political imaginary over time,” Shabazz said. “From Elizabeth ‘Mum Bett’ Freeman to Dr. Ruth Loving, this exhibition invites us to see women on the move for freedom and justice.”
“It is an honor to be a part of this powerful exhibit,” Lewis said. “Remembering the shoulders on which we stand and discovering the spirit that guided their journey emboldens each of us to embrace the work that remains yet to be done.”
The exhibit will be supported by select references and future submission to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. “The stories of courage and resilience of women who have changed the world have too often gone unsung and uncelebrated,” said Theodore Pappas, Executive Editor of Encyclopaedia Britannica, “and so it’s a pleasure to support and to further the mission of this worthy exhibit.”
The exhibit will include reference copies of The Power of Women: Celebrating Women from Western and Central Massachusetts from the1600s to the Present Day, edited by Wayne E. Phaneuf and Joe Carvalho III (The Republican Heritage Book & Travel Series, 2018). There will also be an interactive “story board” for visitors to share their own stories and stories that should be included in the storytelling surrounding this exhibit.

“Janine Fondon has raised the voices of equity and inclusion to a new level. She has highlighted the contributions of so many ‘hidden figures’ in our past. Women of all ages will be encouraged to continue in those courageous and creative footsteps and excel beyond their wildest dreams and aspirations,” said Dr. Carol A. Leary, President of Bay Path University.

About Janine Fondon

Janine Fondon is Assistant Professor and Chair of Undergraduate Communications at Bay Path University. She has received degrees from New York University and Colgate University. Fondon has worked to advance diversity, inclusion, and cross-cultural communication in corporations, communities, and educational institutions. Her work on diversity councils, boards of directors, leadership teams, and community projects has helped raise unheard voices, establish inclusive practices, and highlight history. Also, over the past fifteen years, she has co-directed her own enterprise, UnityFirst.com, with her husband Tom and daughter Nikai.

A recipient of numerous regional and national awards, she received an honorary degree from Springfield Technical Community College citing her leadership at WTCC 90.7 FM radio, a faculty award from Bay Path University in honor of her leadership efforts, recognition for her career in education by the prestigious African-American Female Professors Association, and a 2019 media/education award from the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC)-New England Chapter among others.

About Bay Path University

Bay Path University was founded in 1897. With locations in Longmeadow (main), East Longmeadow (Philip H. Ryan Health Science Center), Springfield (MA), Sturbridge (MA), and Concord (MA), Bay Path’s innovative program offerings include traditional undergraduate degrees for women, The American Women's College on-ground and online, the first all-women, all-online accredited bachelor’s degree programs in the country; over 30 graduate programs for women and men, including doctorate degrees; and Strategic Alliances, offering professional development courses for individuals and organizations. Bay Path’s goal is to give students confidence in the fundamentals of their chosen field, the curiosity to question the ordinary, the leadership to show initiative, and the desire to make a difference.