When Darnel Haney moved into his Washington Terrace neighborhood in 1966, he says three other families moved out.
"One person looked at a neighbor and said, 'There goes the neighborhood,' " said Haney, who is black.
He also remembers taking his family to a restaurant in Brigham City.
"They refused service to my wife and kids and I," he said.
That was a long time ago.
"I still get, occasionally, when I'm talking to people, 'You sure talk good,' " said Haney, who in 2002 retired from a community college in Ohio, after serving as Weber State University's associate dean of students.
But things are getting better.
"When you say 'America,' we have been children in the area of race relations for many years," Haney said. "We're finally beginning to grow up."
Haney shares some of the stories of America growing up through an exhibit of his folk art opening at 6 p.m. today at Ogden Arts. The display runs through Feb. 25, to celebrate Black History Month.
"There are so many stories that need to be told, and I try to do it in a positive way," Haney said. "Folk art is always something that's exciting for everyone, because we can all learn from it, and we can all be part of it because every one of us has a story to tell."
Haney's visual stories include images of slaves in chains. One painting, done in black and white for emotional impact, is titled "Can We Break the Chains That Bind Us?"
"We all have chains in our life, but African-American people sometimes are still bound with the chains in their minds," Haney said. "You want to get past that, so break those chains -- become educated, become involved in your community, become involved with what society has to offer, and take advantage of the opportunities because this is the greatest country in the world."
Haney's paintings and sculptures show African-Americans breaking those chains, from workers in sugar cane fields and Buffalo Soldiers to contemporary musicians, actresses and athletes.
When people look at Haney's art, he wants them to recognize that he's depicting history.
"No matter how painful it might be to a number of people, it's still a part of our history, and if we don't recognize what's taken place in the past, we're doomed to repeat those mistakes," he said.
Haney sometimes shares his interest in history, including personal history, with students.
"Oftentimes I say, 'A man is one who can identify himself,'ââ" he said. "Once you learn about who you are, you're going to carry that torch and make it better for the future."
To learn more about who he is, Haney is digging up his roots. He recently discovered the maiden names of some ancestors.
"That's a chore for African-Americans, because it's going back to the slave period," he said. "It's like finding gold."
He also thinks about his own life, growing up in Arizona.
"I grew up in a very strong, religious home," Haney said. "We didn't have very much, but my mom always instilled in us that whatever we have, we have to share."
One day, he'd had enough of not having enough.
"I was so angry, because we were poor -- we didn't have food half the time -- and I said, 'There is no God,' " he remembered. "She looked at me and said, 'He may not come when you want him, but he's always on time.' I didn't understand it then, but I do now."
Haney's painting, "Cotton Pickin' Hands," reminds him of those hard times.
"We used to earn our school clothes money by picking cotton," he said, adding that cotton forms between branches. "You have to reach in between to pull the cotton out, and you get stuck; it scratches you all up. When I picked cotton, you got $3 for every 100 pounds you picked. ... I picked maybe 250 pounds a day."
As a father in Utah, he took his children to pick cherries in a Riverdale orchard to learn the value and importance of being able to earn a living.
"I spent more on lunch than we got paid," he said.
In 2008, Afro-centric murals along the Ogden River Parkway by Haney and his sons were vandalized. He decided not to let it get him down.
"The majority of people have already shown their face when they elected Obama. They rose above race," he said.
But Haney, who has a degree in sociology, says he realizes some people have a fear of the unknown.
"People in this community have limited exposure to African-American people," he said. "What I like to do is to share with people that we're all people."
Almost everyone had a grandma who told them not to put their elbows on the table, Haney said, adding that we all have highs and lows in our lives, and aspire for our children to do better than we did.
"Sometimes we're so closed minded, we only love and respect the people that look and think and act like we do," he said. "I want people to take a look at my art, and appreciate who the people are."