Submitted by Aurora Historical Society
The opening reception for the exhibit "Flavors of Aurora: Stirred, Not Shaken -- African American" will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25 at the Pierce Art and History Center, 20 E. Downer Place.
The reception is free and will feature authentic food and music. There will be a cash bar.
The exhibit will run through March 8. The Pierce Center is open from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays.
Admission is free and there is free parking in the Stolp Avenue Deck across the street with ticket validation in the gift shop. Donations are welcomed.
African American history in Aurora began about 1850 with the arrival of a few individuals who might have been free blacks but could also have been indentured servants, since this was a legal gray area and the political compromise that kept slaveholders and abolitionists temporarily balanced prior to the Civil War.
As others arrived with increasing frequency after the war, they settled into homogeneous neighborhoods, much as the Luxembourgers, Germans and French Canadians also did, living mostly along the river in the southeast and southwest corners of the city and making a living as barbers, teamsters, porters and domestic servants.
Cal Boger's life will be one of the featured stories in the exhibit. A teenager enslaved on a Georgia plantation, he took advantage of the war-induced chaos there and escaped, eventually finding safety and employment with the 8th Illinois Cavalry.
After the war he accompanied the soldiers back to their hometown, Aurora, and established himself there, marrying and having a family which included Dr. Thomas Boger, a popular Aurora obstetrician, and Henry Boger, an East High football star who obtained a degree in education at the University of Illinois but was tragically killed fighting in France during World War I.
The exhibit is being co-curated by the Aurora Historical Society and Aurora's African American Heritage Advisory Board.