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Press Release  
Release Date: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 11:10 AM
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Media Contact:
Jo-Ann English
Office of University Communications
The Florida Highwaymen – “The Road to Freedom”
Howard University’s Blackburn Center to Exhibit Art of Famed “Florida Highwaymen” Artists

WASHINGTON (Sept. 29, 2011) – The famed Florida Highwaymen artists will be honored at a closing reception at the Howard University Armour J. Blackburn University Center from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2.

The exhibit includes Mary Ann Carroll, the only woman in the famed group of African American artists and Dr. Carnell “Pete” Smith who started out as one of Alfred Hair’s, the leader of the Highwaymen, salesmen but went on to become a prolific painter. When the names of the Florida Highwaymen were originally released, Mr. Smith was listed as “Cornell Smith”—a name no one recognized. But he was widely known by his nickname, Pete. Carroll presented a painting to First Lady, Michelle Obama in May at the First Lady’s Annual Luncheon at the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.

“The overall goal of the exhibit was to bring the Florida Highwaymen art and the artists’ story to a national level of awareness” said Roberta McLeod, Blackburn Center Art Gallery Founder and Center Director. “We created an exciting exhibit befitting of the historical and cultural importance of the Highwaymen for our University community and the community as a whole.”

  • WHAT: A closing reception, featuring the famed Florida Highwaymen Artists
  • WHEN: Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011
  • TIME: 4 p.m. - 8 p.m.
  • WHERE: Howard University - Armour J. Blackburn University Center
    2397 Sixth Street, N.W. - Washington, D.C. 20059
  • COST: FREE admission

Media may attend to cover the event. For photo and interview opportunities contact Sandra Wills Hannon by calling 240.888.9736 or email

The Highwaymen, a group of 26 African-Americans, broke convention to paint beautiful iconic landscapes. Originating in the mid-50s during an era marked by racism, poverty and brutality – galleries shunned their work, so they peddled their art from car trunks along area roadways, hence their name. The surviving Highwaymen, now in their 70s, are an important chapter in America’s culture and history. Their self-determination in the face of adversity remains a story of perseverance, inspiration and creativity.

Founded in 1980, the art gallery serves as a facility, which aims to inspire young artists and others to appreciate the arts by providing exhibition space to build art collections.

 Howard University Office of University Communications,
2225 Georgia Ave. NW,
Suite 603, Washington, D.C. 20059
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