Columbia University exhibition retells the story of America by foregrounding 'black genius'

The Art Newspaper, September 3, 2019

“Four hundred years after the arrival of the earliest documented Africans in the American colonies, Columbia University is commemorating that moment with a provocative exhibition exploring the central role of African Americans in forging an identity for the US.

Titled 20 and Odd: The 400th Anniversary of 1619, the show quotes from a letter penned by the English planter and merchant John Rolfe, who noted the disembarking of “20. and odd Negroes” from an English pirate ship in August 1619. All of those Africans were sold into bondage onshore in exchange for provisions, noted Rolfe, who is perhaps better known today for his marriage to the Native American Pocahontas.

Ranging from archival documents to contemporary works of art, the exhibition at Columbia’s LeRoy Neiman Gallery “aims to subvert the primacy of the European perspective” in recounting this history, says Kalia Brooks Nelson, the show’s curator.”

More here.