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Local artist donates paintings of two prominent Fall River natives, public invited to unveiling



The Fall River Public Library will be holding a public unveiling of two recently donated paintings by local artist Sheila Leshinsky Oliveira in the hallway outside the Children’s Room. The paintings depict Fall River natives, Joe Raposo of Sesame Street fame and Sarah Anna Lewis, first Black-American school teacher in Fall River. The public is invited to attend.

Joe Raposo was a composer/songwriter who was born and raised in Fall River and was a co- creator of the popular children’s program Sesame Street. Raposo also wrote music for such musical talents as Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, and Barbara Streisand. Over the course of his career, Raposo was awarded five Grammys and multiple Gold and Platinum albums for his musical achievements.

Sarah Anna Lewis was the first Black-American school teacher in Fall River. She may have also been the first Black student to graduate from The Bridgewater State Normal School, which is now Bridgewater State University. She was admitted to the college in 1867 and began her teaching career in March 1869, teaching at the “1st Div. Intermediate” school level in Fall River.

Both paintings by the artist were supported in part by a grant from Fall River Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency. The morning’s festivities will include a storytime for children and the chance to meet Elmo and the Cookie Monster, both of Sesame Street fame.

“We’re extremely delighted and proud to have these two paintings as part of the library’s permanent collection,” commented David Mello, Supervisor of Children’s Services. “Their addition will also serve as a tribute to the lives and accomplishments of two of Fall River’s own citizens, both pioneers in their respective fields.”

The unveiling will take place on Wednesday, February 8 at 10:00 a.m.

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