The public persona of a scold that Albert Barnes had crafted for himself, whether deliberately or not, largely freed him from the civic demands that might otherwise have been made of a rich and prominent collector. He was rarely asked to join boards or address organizations, and his exclusion from the cultural and educational power structure of Philadelphia may have heightened the importance he accorded to an invitation from Central High School to deliver its distinguished Barnwell Lecture in 1936. Over the years, his alma mater had attracted many well-known speakers. They included eminent scholars, artists, and scientists, and Barnes was proud to have been invited to deliver the fifty-fourth in the historic series of addresses. The subject he chose was one that had fascinated and engaged him for most of his life. Before an audience of 1,600 people gathered at the Penn Athletic Club, the collector best known for his modern masterpieces talked about “The Art of the American Negro.” To illustrate his lecture, he brought the Bordertown School Glee Club, eleven girls in white middy blouses and fourteen boys in khaki uniforms, to sing spirituals. Their performance moved one reporter to describe the African-American chorus as “a great musical instrument.” Speaking from his heart, Barnes, who was so often garrulous, said the singing “did something to you emotionally that was impossible to put into words.” 1