Strand Theatre’s gallery highlights black veterans

The Strand Theatre in Dorchester is opening a newly renovated visual arts gallery next week, and its first exhibit will be a series of oil paintings commemorating America’s black veterans.

The exhibit, “Triumph! Unsung Black Veterans in US History (Duty-Sacrifice-Honor),” will open Aug. 14 and run until Nov. 14, the office of Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement.

The exhibit will feature 13 oil paintings of veterans such as the late William Harvey Carney, a Virginia slave who escaped via the Underground Railroad to Massachusetts and later served with the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment as a sergeant.


Carney received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor, 37 years later for his service during the unit’s heroic assault on Fort Wagner in South Carolina.

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The exhibit’s grand opening will be from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday and will include speakers, entertainment, and refreshments. Presenters will include Shirley Malone Fenner, who will speak about psychological support for military families, and singers Barry Lawton and Yma Arrington.

The exhibit is produced by Haywood Fennell Sr., a member of the Tri-Ad Veterans League Inc., which encourages veterans’ involvement in the community.

“The traveling oil paintings are part of Tri-Ad’s national effort to turn the artwork into a commemorative US stamp collection,” the statement from the mayor’s office said.

Alda Marshall, a curator of the exhibit, said the theater decided to renovate the space for this exhibit because it portrays the strong connection it has with veterans. That connection extends to the Strand’s opening day — Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918, which marked the end of World War I hostilities.

Trisha Thadani can be reached at