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NMSU Professor Emeritus kicks off exhibit of New Mexico's African American legacy

An exhibit featuring the history of African American families who settled around the state will begin with a talk by New Mexico State University Professor Emeritus Clarence Fielder at a reception from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, March 21, at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum.

Man looking to the side with his hand up
NMSU Professor Emeritus Clarence Fielder will speak at the opening of the exhibit "New Mexico's African American legacy: Visible, Vital, Valuable" at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum. (submitted photo)

Fielder, a well-known historian who taught at NMSU for 38 years, played a critical role in curating the Las Cruces portion of the exhibit titled "New Mexico's African American legacy: Visible, Vital, Valuable." Fielder lectured about African American settlers in New Mexico at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe earlier this month.

A large portion of the exhibit features the history of African Americans in Las Cruces, including original families, homesteads and churches such as Phillips Chapel, the city's oldest African American church.

Thanks to Fielder and anthropology graduate student Terry Moody, the chapel, built in 1911, was nominated to the State Register of Cultural Projects and the National Register of Historic Places. Fielder along with NMSU anthropology professor Beth O'Leary have been working with preservation experts, faculty and students from Dona Ana Community College and professors in NMSU's engineering college since 2009 to restore the chapel. The work continues and the group has hosted a number of fundraisers to assist in funding the last of the restoration.

The opening reception for the exhibit is free to the public. Admission to the exhibit is $5 for adults, $3 for senior citizens 60 and over and $2 for children 5-17 years old. For more information call 575-522-4100 ext. 101.