Black History Month: FREE Puppet Show By Master Puppet Maker Schroeder Cherry And Exhibition

January 29, 2024

 City Lore, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is pleased to present, artist, puppet maker, and puppeteer, Schroeder Cherry.

Cherry will take the lead in a performance of his original show, “Civil Rights Children Crusade.”

Scheduled for February 10, 2024 from 12 noon to 1pm, the program is appropriate for grades 4 to adult and will be held in the City Lore Gallery, located at 56 East 1st Street in Manhattan.

This free performance is in conjunction with City Lore’s current exhibition, “The Calling: The Transformative Power of African American Doll and Puppet Making,” which features work by Schroeder Cherry along with a group of nationally renowned Black doll and puppet makers and is on view through March 2, 2024.  

Attendance is free but requires registration:  Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The Show

In this interactive family-friendly puppet show by exhibiting artist and puppeteer Schroeder Cherry a young boy discovers that his strict grandfather went to jail as a child. What is this about?

This 30-minute performance is narrated by a rod puppet who uses wooden cutouts to tell what he learns about the 1963 Civil Rights Children’s Crusade. The puppeteer is in full view, dressed in Black. The show ends in a participatory chant with the audience.  

Schroeder Cherry

Dr. Schroeder Cherry, a Baltimore-based artist, grew up in Washington, DC.  He is an award-winning mixed media artist who captures scenes of African American life with his puppets and his assemblage/mixed media artistry.  Recently featured on the PBS program Crafts in American, he is currently the curator of the James E. Lewis Museum of Art and teaches Museum Studies at Morgan State University. His highly sought after work is exhibited nationally. “Schroeder Cherry” – Fleckenstein -Schroeder Cherry’s puppets are created as part of a performing troupe. Although the characters do not represent any one particular real-life person, they are inspired by personality types found within the African diaspora.  The puppets perform in original shows that range from fantasy, like “The Land of Primary Colors,” to historically based shows such as “Can You Spell Harlem?”  “Tuskegee Airmen;” Underground Railroad, Not A Subway;” and “Civil Rights Children’s Crusade.” Occasionally the puppets perform in “puppet slams.” These are shows where a group of puppeteers take the stage back-to-back and perform for about five minutes each.

The exhibition conceived and curated by Camila Bryce-Laporte, (a noted doll maker herself) in partnership with scholar Dr. Phyllis M. May-Machunda, includes dolls and puppets created by a national group of 26 multi-media artists reflective of the African Diaspora of the Americas who all came of age in communities in the United States during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Compelled or “called” to continue the special and enduring tradition of Black doll making these artists recognize that their works are healing and transformative for themselves and for the communities they represent.

Supported by the Institute of Museums and Library Services, City Lore has provided a platform to recognize African American doll and puppet artists as stewards of deeply held craft and storytelling traditions that have passed down through generations. The exhibition celebrates the heritage, aesthetics, and values of these contemporary artists who blur the line between artistry and craftsmanship. As Camila Bryce-Laporte aptly puts it, “African descendants have existed and contributed to the development of the Americas for centuries. Through our artistry, we are exploring and defining our African ancestry, our New World experiences, and our legacy on our own terms.”

City Lore Gallery hours are: Friday 2-6 pm, and Saturday – Sunday 12-6pm. To learn more about the exhibition, and to read bios on each artist, please visit:

City Lore

Founded in 1986, and now an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution,  City Lore’s mission is to foster New York City – and America’s – living cultural heritage through education and public programs.  We document, present, and advocate for New York City’s grassroots cultures to ensure their living legacy in stories and histories, places and traditions.  We work in four cultural domains:  urban folklore and history; preservation; arts education; and grassroots poetry traditions. In each of these realms, we see ourselves as furthering cultural equity and modeling a better world with projects as dynamic and diverse as New York City itself.  For more info:

City Lore is made possible with generous support from: Institute of Museum and Library Services, New York State Council on the Arts. New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The Sherman Foundation, Lily Auchincloss Foundation.

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