Learn about the vivid Black history of Bay Shore


In recognition of Black History Month, the Bay Shore Historical Society will host “A Glimpse of Art and Culture: Talent Within Our Black Community” on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. at the Bay Shore-Brightwaters Public Library. This special presentation will be led by Deanna Watts and will celebrate many of Bay Shore’s exceptional local Black artists and performers.

Presenter Deanna Watts was formerly the director of Affirmative Action/EEO for Central Islip and Pilgrim State Hospitals for over 34 years. Watts was also a member of the Town of Islip Housing Authority for 25 years, serving as chairperson for 10 years.

“I realized that although we live in the same community, we do not have the same knowledge of the White community and the Black community. Even some of us in the Black community have forgotten so much about our own community,” explained Watts. “I am interested in reintroducing people. Even though you may have met them previously, you may not think about them frequently or barely remember them. So, I like the concept of letting people know, these are the people that perhaps we have maybe went to school with, or have seen doing work for the community. And I like the idea of reintroducing the two communities.”

Among the many honored artists and performers to be reintroduced is Edward Cornelius, a charter member of the Bay Shore historical society who worked at the Bay Shore Theatre for over 60 years. Cornelius created the musical group known as the Ed Cornelious Orchestra, which was widely popular during the prohibition and jazz eras and performed throughout Long Island and New York City. Grammy award-winner Patti Austen, who graduated from Bay Shore High School, is also among the revered and talented Black performers to be presented at the meeting.

See Watts’s passionate love for Bay Shore as she shares the rich history of the Black community in the hamlet at the Bay Shore Historical Society meeting.


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