The 1619 Project: Reflections on our Imperfect History
Beginning November 2 through December 22, 2023, York Public Library will display 12 portraits from the Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) collection in a collaboration with the York Diversity Forum.
An opening reception and presentation by artist Robert Shetterly is scheduled for November 2 from 5-7 PM in the Library’s Upper Level. The event is part of a series of programs presented by the York Diversity Forum this fall, “The 1619 Project: Reflections on our Imperfect History.” Refreshments will be provided at the reception. Other upcoming events in YDF’s series are listed on the library’s website, including a December 7th showing of the documentary film “Truth Tellers” which chronicles Shetterly’s journey in creating the AWTT collection.
Brooksville-based painter Robert Shetterly began the project more than 20 years ago with a goal of completing 50 portraits of noted activists in US history. There are now 265 portraits total, and the number is growing.
What began in 2002 as artist Robert Shetterly’s personal portrait project has become a broad-based, not-for-profit arts and education organization, the mission of which is to foster and inspire “a profound sense of citizenship” by exposing students and community members to portraits, quotes, biographies, and related resources built around these “Models of Courageous Citizenship.”
Portraits, clockwise from top left: Sojourner Truth, Abolitionist; Rachel Talbot Ross, Civil rights Advocate and Maine legislator; Tarana Burke, founder of the “Me Too” Movement; Denise Altavater, co-founder of the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission; Deqa Dhalac, First African-American and first Muslim to be elected to the South Portland City Council; John Lewis, Civil Rights Activist and Congressman
In addition to encouraging community institutions to host the portraits, which have visited 35 states to date, AWTT offers workshops, speaking engagements, and lesson plans around environmental justice, civil rights, the media, indigenous issues, women’s rights, and more.
York Public Library (YPL) and the York Diversity Forum (YDF) have secured twelve portraits for this exhibit which reflect the themes of civil rights and racial justice. Portraits on display are:
- Denise Altavater, co-founder of the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission
- Tarana Burke, founder of the “Me Too” Movement
- Cesar Estrada Chavez, Farm Workers’ Union Founder
- Deqa Dhalac, First African-American and first Muslim to be elected to the South Portland City Council
- Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, food and Health, Education and Environmental Justice Doctor
- Amara Ifeji, environmental and racial justice activist
- John Lewis, Civil Rights Activist and Congressman
- Leah Penniman, Food justice activist
- Rachel Talbot Ross, Civil rights Advocate and Maine legislator.
- Sojouner Truth, Abolitionist
- Alice Walker, Poet and social justice activist
- Elizabeth Mumbet Freeman, slave abolitionist, freewoman; and Dolores Volk, custodian
Thanks to the York Public Library for providing this summary of the exhibit.