CCHS Presents ‘Routes and Roadblocks: A Conversation About Mobility’

The community is invited to participate in “Routes and Roadblocks: A Conversation About Mobility” from 4:30-6 p.m. on Feb. 22 at the Chenango County Historical Society (CCHS), located at 45 Rexford St., Norwich. This conversation will feature facilitated dialogue about experiences traveling within Chenango County, with an emphasis on the role of driving and automobiles. Discussion topics will include age, farm/rural life, gender, race, and community mobility needs.

For nearly two years, CCHS has been home to the exhibit “Routes & Roadblocks: The Black Motoring Experience.” Generously supported by Golden Artist Colors, this display connects the history of Chenango County, the impact of the invention of the automobile, and the work of SUNY Oneonta Distinguished Professor Dr. Gretchen Sorin. Dr. Sorin is author of the book Driving While Black and producer of the PBS documentary “Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America.” The CCHS exhibit was curated in collaboration with Dr. Sorin and her students from the Cooperstown Graduate Program (CGP).

“Routes and Roadblocks: A Conversation About Mobility” is being held during February in commemoration of Black History Month. Similar to the exhibit, stories of Chenango County’s history and the black motoring experience will play a significant role during this facilitated dialogue.

The mass production of automobiles redefined travel and increased mobility for America. For the first time in history, people were able to travel at their own leisure. The development of the car meant that motorists could now access rural regions, such as Chenango County, that were previously out of the way. New roads and highways were constructed, which increased mobility, and businesses and commerce benefited across the nation. Cars held even more significance for African Americans, whose mobility had historically been restricted by legal and discriminatory methods. Outside of public transportation, the automobile provided an alternative avenue for Black travelers. Yet, personal vehicles also provided challenges for Black Americans, with unseen roadblocks persisting today.

A wide variety of community organizations have been invited to participate in “Routes and Roadblocks: A Conversation About Mobility,” including Chenango Links, Colgate University, Getthere Mobility Management of the Rural Health Network, National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, and Oneonta Area NAACP. “Routes and Roadblocks: A Conversation About Mobility” will serve as the final viewing of “Routes & Roadblocks: The Black Motoring Experience” before the exhibit moves out of gallery rotation.

Pre-registration for the event is encouraged, as light snacks will be provided. To register for “Routes and Roadblocks: A Conversation About Mobility,” email or call (607) 334-9227. (In case of inclement weather, “Routes and Roadblocks: A Conversation About Mobility” will be held on Feb. 29.)

First established in 1939, CCHS is the primary organization dedicated to actively and comprehensively preserving the history of Chenango County. The area’s premier heritage museum, the organization celebrates local culture – unique traditions, noteworthy residents, and unusual stories of the region. CCHS programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

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