Syracuse, New York – The Dunbar Association, Inc. is pleased to announce an Open House event to let the community know that the Dunbar Center is open for programming and services.
Special guest appearance by Roosevelt Bouie, Live music from Melissa Gardiner and the Second Line Brass Band, HIV Health Info provided by NBLCA, Free Blood Pressure checks by the Syracuse Area Black Nurses Association, Cooking demonstration by Chef Will Lewis, Samples from Puddinglicious, Giveaways and more! All are welcomed!
Saturday, September 26th (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
1453 South State Street
For those who aren’t aware of Dunbar Center here is a brief history of the organization.
Dunbar Association, Inc. of Syracuse, New York is one of the few African-American Settlement Houses still operational today. The advent of the twentieth century brought notable changes to the Black community of Syracuse. The population grew slowly as opportunities for employment expanded. Black men came to work in a munitions industry. But as employment opportunities broadened discrimination grew more overt.
In this setting in 1918, an ex convict, Jimmy LaGrin, conceived the idea of providing recreational activities to Black youth in an effort to keep them from criminal activity. He created a recreational program under the auspices of the AME Zion Church and became acquainted with Black students attending Syracuse University who were from a literary group called The Paul Lawrence Dunbar Society
Once established, the Dunbar Association, Inc (a.k.a. Dunbar Center) was maintained as a recreational, social, and cultural center for the individuals of African descent living in the city of Syracuse. Incorporated in 1935, Dunbar was the core of the 1930’s black community and served many functions throughout its history. As the first settlement house in Syracuse, over the course of eight decades, the agency served as one of Central New York’s access gateways for migrating blacks and was a major resource center for fulfilling community needs. It assisted local Blacks in the improvement of their socio-economic conditions by the development of educational, vocational, recreational, cultural and social programming and opportunities.
The agency filled the gaps created by the division of the color line and was a preserver of the African American culture. The community used the center for social events including dances, youth groups, club meetings, and weddings. During World War II, the organization was used as a training center and employment agency. The staff and volunteers also worked to increase housing opportunities for African Americans in Syracuse. In the 1950’s, when Syracuse faced a violent outbreak of polio, the center played a vital role in helping to erode the poor health status of the community. Dunbar provided visibility for a Black community residing in a predominately White society, and acted as the community’s voice for equitable social change.
Prior to moving to its present location, Dunbar’s first sites were at 711 and 720 East Fayette Street from 1920 to 1926. The second home was 308 South McBride Street from 1926-1940 and later at 950 Townsend Street from 1940-1964. The present location, 1453 South State Street, was dedicated on November 14, 1964.
Today, Dunbar, a community-based and community-owned organization is a multi-purpose entity that provides a continuum of offerings. After a brief hiatus the organization has reopened and is having an open house to celebrate Saturday, September 26th (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at the Center located at 1453 South State Street, Syracuse NY