The first time I visited the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, which was probably back in ‘07, I knew the space was special. Tucked away in the community of Anacostia, miles from it’s other Smithsonian counterparts, it is one of the “quieter” museums. For those who have experienced the Smithsonian corridor located near the Washington Monument, you know the wait times to get into certain museums and exhibits can sometimes take hours, days, and weeks. But not the Anacostia Community Museum. Now, in no way shape or form is this a reflection of the quality of exhibits and programming that are being produced at the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum. The space continues to provide the intellectual value that founder John R. Kinard and company delivered years ago. Encouraging visitors to reflect on everything from DC’s environmental concerns to the history of the Gullah Geechee people. And in most cases when there is a special program like a film festival or exhibit opening night, the museum event space is standing room only. Yesterday was an example of that || Yesterday, while I was stuck in traffic, I decided to break up my drive and stretch my legs a bit by visiting the Anacostia Museum. I started out by viewing and making my mark on the @amandalburnham @cultural_dc installation “Block Watch”. Followed by catching a performance by @shaolinjazz then I finally took a self-guided tour of “A Right to the City”. And I’ll just say everything about Burnham’s Mobile Art Gallery, the museum’s exhibit design and the live music performance was amazing….here are a few clips from that experience ~”The Historian”
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Image 1: Afro American Cultural Center at Yale University, est 1969 //Image 2: conceptual plan of the African American Cultural Center in Virginia Beach.
Yale’s Afro American Cultural Center is recognized as the first of its kind at an Ivy League school and the largest in the Northeast. With years of providing a variety of cultural, spiritual, mentoring, and tutoring services, the current Afro American Cultural Center at Yale dean, Dean Risë Nelson is championing the development of the African American Cultural in Virginia Beach.
In a keynote speech given to those working to bring Virginia Beach’s cultural center to fruition, Dean Nelson shared the following: “We are always a part of the conversation on campus and in New Haven; we do not let ourselves become invisible; our calendar is chock-full of events to bring people in continually… we believe that the history and traditions of the African diaspora should be celebrated by all Americans and members of society; the welcome mat is always out.”
[source: The Virginian-Pilot]
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Photo by Joel Buglewickz
Adapted from New Yorker Magazine Article
“The Promise: Life, Death, and Change in the Projects”
Reporter Meribah Knight has produced a six-part series podcast on Nashville, Tennessee’s public housing development, James A. Cayce Homes. This story follows the razing and redevelopment stages of Cayce Homes. Knight described yearly household incomes of Cayce’s original residents as being somewhere around $8000 per year.
Redevelopers have coined the revitalization project “Envison Cayce” and the podcast “The Promise” gives an inside look at the enthusiasm and skepticism felt by Cayce’s longtime residents. After the razing of Cayce Homes’ original structures, the contemporary version welcomes a diversified community consisting of young professionals, while giving those who’ve been there for years the choice to remain. Only this choice comes with a no pet policy, at least 50+ security cameras, and “nowhere to sit outside and talk”
Pictured is Big Man, one of the podcast’s interviewees. A longtime resident of James A. Cayce Homes, he signed on to remain in the community to see if the revitalized “Envision Cayce” housing development will turn out to be the imagined safe place for him and his family to live.
[source: Sarah Larson, New Yorker Magazine]
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In 2016 I documented residents in Savannah Georgia’s Carver Village to find out why they felt it important to have their residential neighborhood placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Since then, Georgia Department of Natural Resources (Historic Preservation Division) has determined that Carver Village does have national significance. The community has been placed on both the Georgia State Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places.
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Knowing history is key to shaping the future. As the adage goes, how do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been? My visit to the African-American Civil War Museum just off Vermont Avenue, just off DC’s U Street Corridor, was a first for me. The good folk at The Merging Lanes Project asked me to tag along as part of a case study, focused on people learning about African-American history outside of academia. I’m honored whenever anyone wants to use my opinion in the public sphere so agreeing to attend was easy.
Individual knowledge of African-American history varies from person-to-person within the black community. It falls somewhere between limited solely to established academic curriculum and reading outside the lines of established discourse. The buck stops at school for many of us while the rest will follow our intuition, doing additional research on what our true history is. The museum centers on the American Civil War but also chronicles black history leading up to the war and afterward. The first standout point was learning of the seven black men who were part of the 41st and 42nd United States Congress’ during the Reconstruction period and the first black people to hold those positions. The second was finding out what is West Africa today was once known as “Negroland” – Mind blown. This newfound information moved me the same way I was upon walking into the defunct Hue-Man Books in Harlem 13 years ago and seeing a poster of a book entitled Germany’s Black Holocaust: 1890-1945. I was grateful for the exposure but also disappointed at becoming privy to this information as an adult.
Whether 125th Street in 2005 or Vermont Avenue NW in 2018, each moment of enlightenment contributes to knowing self and how to move in a room full of vultures. I look at the daily social media conversations and arguments surrounding social injustices. The intentions, be they good or bad, of most people engaging in these discussions are clear. I’m concerned, however, that only a few of us contributing to these discussions know our history well enough to be so vocal. I mean, when’s the last time you fact-checked a meme?
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(Atlanta) Things to do, 4/14 & 4/22 – “Maynard” Film Screening
Maynard Jackson III, the only son of Maynard Jackson Jr (first Black mayor of Atlanta) has spent the past two years working to produce a film about his father. Maynard III and wife Wendy Eley Jackson are cofounders of Auburn Avenue Films. The two secured the support of director Sam Pollard, who has edited and directed a number of Spike Lee’s documentaries. Pollard had one requirement, he needed and was given full creative control.
Audio recordings of Maynard Jackson which were stored at Emory University, were used to inform the film. The film also incorporates Maynard Jackson Jr ephemera, interviews with Andrew Young, Kasim Reed and all 5 of Maynard Jrs children.
Link to Atlanta Magazine Article
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