Darryl Matthews: Black Diamond


February 7-May 31, 2022 | Downtown Durham

The countdown begins! Darryl Matthews: Black Diamond is coming to Durham, NC! The exhibition opens at the American Tobacco Campus Reed Art Gallery on February 7 and runs through May 31, 2022.
“Darryl Matthews: Black Diamond” celebrates Negro Leagues Baseball and honors the legends of the game. The solo exhibition features over 20 watercolor paintings by Matthews who is the son of Newark Eagles’ player Francis Oliver Matthews. Explore the history of the Negro Leagues through the stories of players such as Oscar Charleston, Satchel Paige, Francis Oliver Matthews, Jackie Robinson, Buck Leonard, Toni Stone and many others. These men and women faced adversity on and off the field, but they persevered to pave the way for generations of players to come.
Don’t miss this exhibition! Make plans to visit! And help us spread the word by sharing this announcement with your family and friends. We’ll see you soon!
Special thanks to American Tobacco Campus for supporting this exhibition.
Image: Darryl Matthews, “Francis Oliver Matthews,” 2021, © Darryl Matthews, image courtesy of Drinking Gourd Gallery

Darryl Matthews: Black Diamond  June 19, 2021 - September 25, 2021 | Rocky Mount Mills 

Pictured Artwork: Cool Papa Bell by Darryl Matthews

Darryl Matthews: Black Diamond is a solo exhibition featuring works by artist Darryl Matthews who is the son of late Negro Leagues player Francis Oliver Matthews. The exhibition provides an intimate view of the Negro Leagues history through a collection of works featuring players such as Oscar Charleston, Satchel Paige, James Thomas “Cool Papa” Bell, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Francis Oliver Matthews, Jackie Robinson, and female players Toni Stone, Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, and Connie Morgan. The memorabilia in the exhibition focuses primarily on Francis Oliver Matthews and captures the Negro Leagues as they were—through the games, players, and places. In December 2020, Major League Baseball (MLB) recognized the Negro Leagues as Major Leaguers. All 3,400 players from 1920 to 1948 were elevated to MLB status—100 years after the start of the Negro Leagues. The pronouncement is significant for a group of legends who broke new ground and paved the way for future generations. The Darryl Matthews: Black Diamond exhibition celebrates these legends and all that they accomplished and symbolized.  


08/12/2021, 7:30 p.m. What's that Sound? Thomas Taylor performs selections from the Negro Leagues era as a part of Drinking Gourd Gallery's Art Talks Concert series. There is no charge to attend. (This event has passed.)

North Carolina-based Drummer, Thomas Taylor has spent his life discovering the drums, rhythms, and music from all walks of life. Brought up in the churches of North Carolina, Thomas came to learn the importance of "Supporting the music" from behind the drum set. He studied classical percussion and music education at the University of North Carolina Greensboro where he earned his Bachelors ('91) and Masters ('10) degrees.

Thomas learned the importance of "Swing" playing gigs across the US in the early 1990s. After graduating from college, Thomas began teaching percussion, music, and jazz at community music schools and universities in North Carolina. He continues to teach at North Carolina Central University and the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

Thomas spent 10 years working, playing, and teaching with world-renowned jazz educator Jamey Aebersold. This opportunity allowed him to meet and perform with some of the world’s most important and influential jazz musicians. He continues to play with some of the international jazz community’s most loved and respected artists. Thomas has shared the stage with Terell Stafford, Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo, Joe Chambers, Hubert Laws, Grady Tate, Jim Snidero, Corey Christiansen, Dan Hearle, Percy Heath, Cedar Walton, Vanessa Rubin, and so many others over the last 25+ years.

Thomas has performed and taught around the world. He has spread his message of swing on the continents of North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. You can find Thomas performing on the east coast with his drummer-led groups performing his original music. You can also hear him performing with regional, national, and international artists. For more information, visit www.Thomasdrum.com

06/19/2021, 7:30 p.m. The View from the Diamond: In conjunction with our opening night celebration, Negro Leagues player Willie Sellars recalls his days of playing with the Indianapolis Clowns. (This event has passed.)

06/20/2021, 4:00 p.m. Remembering Negro Leagues Player Francis Oliver Matthews: Artist Darryl Matthews and his sister Charmaine Matthews share memories of their father Francis Oliver Matthews who played with the Newark Eagles. (This event has passed.)

07/17/2021, 7:30 p.m. What's that Sound? Lillian Park performs selections from the Negro Leagues era as a part of Drinking Gourd Gallery's Art Talks Concert series. Register in advance to attend this concert. There is no charge to attend. (This event has passed.)

Lillian Park is a rising senior at North Carolina Central University, pursuing a degree in both Jazz Studies and Music Education, and is scheduled to graduate in May 2022. She loves performing and composing in the Jazz, R&B, and Soul category, but is also passionate about educating the next generation on the traditions and technique of music. Lillian’s passion for music started in classical and jazz piano, but she realized her love for singing and started seriously studying voice in her sophomore year of college. After graduation, Lillian plans to attend graduate school for composition and arranging. 


There are a number of organizations engaged in work to preserve the history of Negro Leagues Baseball. As a part of the Black Diamond exhibition, we have compiled a list of some of these organizations. Our list is not complete or exhaustive, but it is a starting point for learning more about the Negro Leagues. If you would like to support the mission of any of these organizations through monetary or in-kind donations, please reach out to them directly. 

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Yesterday's Negro Leagues Baseball Players

Newark Public Library

Buck Leonard Association for Sports and Human Enrichment

Satchel Paige Foundation

Birmingham Negro Southern League Museum

Josh Gibson Foundation

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Seamheads Negro League Database

Major League Baseball

Society for American Baseball Research (SABR)

Center for Negro League Baseball Research

Negro Leagues Baseball Grave Marker Project (Part of the Negro Leagues Committee of SABR)

A special thank you to Bob Kendrick and Dr. Raymond Doswell of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and author, historian and Negro Leagues Baseball Museum co-founder Larry Lester for their kindness and encouragement as we have worked to assemble this exhibition. 

 *In 2022, Darryl Matthews was commissioned by the Buck Leonard Association to create seven original color paintings of baseball players Martín Dihigo, Lou Gehrig, Hank Greenberg, Buck O’Neil, Tony Perez, Joe Staton and Ben Taylor. These paintings are now on permanent display in the Buck Leonard First Baseman's Hall of Fame located at the Imperial Centre for the Arts & Sciences in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.