The Souls of Black Folk art exhibit makes history at Scarab Club in Detroit

An enduring group for the arts in Detroit -- is celebrating Black History Month for the first time. The Scarab Club which at one time didn't even allow Black artists is now led by several Black board members.

"To be here right now - it's remarkable - to be part of this show," said Phillip Simpson, artist.

Simpson stands next to his portrait of voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, which is part of a first of its kind art exhibit at the Scarab Club in Detroit. There are 19 artists - all Black - all from Detroit - taking part in this celebration of Black history.

"The different stories of blackness you see on this wall, that was the point," said Donna Jackson, artist. "Too many times it's so easy to talk about slavery, Civil Rights movement - and then what happened last summer. Like, just those hot points - but there is so much in between there."

Jackson is the curator of the exhibit, one that personifies the complexity of the Black experience. She calls it Souls of Black Folk: Bearing Our Truth, inspired by the book written by activist and author W.E.B. Du Bois in 1903.

"It's powerful - as fitting as it is 100 years old, it still rings true today," said David Rudolph. "It is not easy to be Black and American."

Rudolph is on the board at the Scarab Club - it, too, is more than 100 years old. An artists' club that originally was only for white men. An artists' club that now has a Black woman as board president.

"We've never had a show of all Black artists on our walls for black history month and so it's very exciting for us," said Mariuca Rofick.

Rofick and this exhibit and these artists are all making history in this historic building during this historic time as our nation reckons with its long history of racism and, finally, seeks to bend toward justice.

"Everything about being Black - and our experience and our struggles and our joys - everything about it - and to see it here, it was just very emotional for me," she said.

Donna Jackson, artist

"So much talent, so much attitude, courage - talking about some of the things we're talking about, a lot of feelings in here. It can get emotional at times," said Simpson.

"Enjoy it but educate yourself about what's going on," said Jackson. "Because we're moving into a different world right and there's no better way to move into that world than through the arts."

The exhibit is on display through March 6th. You can visit The Scarab Club, 217 Farnsworth Street, Detroit, for free from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.