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Artifacts highlight Morrow library's Black History display

Ruby Alford and Gene Krynicki agree that African-themed items should be displayed in Morrow to educate people on African-American history.

Alford is the branch manager of the Clayton County Public Library System's Morrow branch, and Krynicki is the owner of the Antique Emporium, a shop that is literally around the corner from the library, which is located at 6225 Maddox Road.

For the second year in a row, they have come together to create a Black History Month display that features African-inspired artwork on loan from Krynicki's shop.

The display includes 11 statues, and one purse carved from a coconut, that Krynicki lent to the library. It also includes an Underground Railroad quilt that belongs to Alford, and several pieces of native Nigerian clothing that belong to Library Assistant Francis Adebola-Wilson.

"We're supporting a neighborhood effort," Krynicki said. "It's good for the children to see examples of hand-made art ... I believe in supporting your neighborhood whenever you can."

"Black History Month is education for the community, especially the children, who have not been exposed to their history, yet," Alford added.

The items will remain on display at the library through the end of the month, when Black History Month ends. The statues Krynicki lent the library for the display range from African art (such as tribal warrior figures), to Caribbean art (including statues of women carrying fruit).

Krynicki said he collects the statues, and other items, including tribal masks, by shopping at places such as flea markets, auctions, antique shows, yard sales and estate sales. He turns around and sells the items at his own shop, which is located at 2394 Lake Harbin Road, in Morrow.

He said he prefers to buy items for re-sale that look like they were made by hand. "I buy it strictly for the decorative appeal," Krynicki said. He later added, "It's become a hobby and a career. It's sort of like an addiction."

Krynicki said the partnership between his shop and the library began last year when Diana Acquaye, a customer who was, at the time, a library assistant at the branch, asked him if the library could borrow some items from his shop for a Black History Month display.

"She had been shopping at my store for a while, and I trusted her, so I said ‘Sure, go ahead,'" he said.

Alford said Acquaye has since been transferred to the library system's headquarters branch, but the Morrow branch's partnership with Krynicki lives on with this year's display.

"We couldn't have pulled it off nearly as well without Mr. Krynicki's help," Alford said. "That goes to show the kind of relationship a library should have with its neighborhood. You have to have that connection and communication with your community to be successful."