Museum Merchandise Monday! Louis Armstrong House Museum

Museum Merchandise Monday—a day to highlight favorite gifts found at museum and historic site, gift shops.

Pictured is a t-shirt purchased during a 2014 visit to the Louis Armstrong House Museum. Located at 34-56 107th Street Queens, New York.

“The Louis Armstrong House Museum sustains and promotes the cultural, historical, and humanitarian legacy of Louis Armstrong by preserving and interpreting Armstrong’s house and grounds, collecting and sharing archival materials that document Armstrong’s life and legacy, and presenting public programs such as exhibits, concerts, lectures, and film screenings.”

Join us! Use hashtag #MuseumMerchandiseMonday

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Opening in Nashville, Tennessee 2019 – National Music of African American Music

The National Museum of African American Music will open in Nashville Tennessee in 2019.

The museum is currently offering a series of lectures prior to opening the doors to their permanent home. A schedule can be found on their website nmaam.org

Unveiling of John Lewis Freedom Parkway and John Lewis Plaza Additions

Representative John Lewis pictured alongside (L-R) Atlanta City Council member Andre Dickens, Mayor Keisha Bottoms, media and others.
John Lewis Parkway Part I, before the unveiling.
John Lewis Parkway Part II, after the unveiling.
Atlanta Department of Public Works employees after placing their final touch on park grounds.
Clark Atlanta University Band Drum Major
Clark Atlanta University Band filing into John Lewis Freedom Plaza, site of the day’s ceremony.
Young children with caregivers as all await John Lewis’ scheduled 1 pm arrival.
Guidance on how to best use the latest addition, the John Lewis Ride to Freedom Play Space.
pictured is one of several civil rights regions featured along the Ride to Freedom Play Space. According to Monica Prothro additional signage will be installed before the end of the year. The signage will interpret civil rights history in various regions across the U.S.
“The Unveiling: John Lewis Freedom Parkway” program guide.

There were probably over a couple hundred people that came out to witness the definition of a significant moment in Atlanta history. The date, August 22nd 2018. Location, John Lewis Freedom Parkway and the corner of Ponce De Leon Ave NE. The occasion? Well, just a short time ago John Lewis Freedom Parkway was known as simply Freedom Parkway. But, in early December 2017 a resolution sponsored by Council member Andre Dickens, that called for a street name change from Freedom Parkway to John Lewis Freedom Parkway, was approved by Atlanta City Council. Following the approval, months of preparation went into changing the street name with a public, conspicuous display of admiration in Lewis’ honor. Also of note are changes in the process of being made to the existing John Lewis Plaza.

To start, imagine this —in comes one of the most notable Freedom Riders, John Lewis, on a MARTA bus designated for him, his family members, and other close supporters. With streets partially blocked, ushered in by a crew of public safety officers, the bus turns the corner… in it is Lewis and his selected bus passengers with their eyes locked on the crowd. From the MARTA bus windows they are getting their first glimpse of the amount of people that amassed to witness “the unveiling”.

Fast forward to Lewis exiting the bus. He was met by many who must have felt it was important to document that very moment in time. Whether it was a mobile phone or another digital recording device, more than not someone was working to capture an affecting image. Lewis worked his way from one end of the park to the other, surrounded by a crowd that could be described as a swarm (Note: I am curious to know if Representative Lewis felt any other way besides “in his element” while making his way alongside the crowd to the other end of the park). Just before reaching the main stage, accompanied by Councilmember Andre Dickens and Mayor Keisha Bottoms, Lewis was welcomed by the Clark Atlanta University (CAU) Band. The band performed a series of routines just as they did while the crowd awaited Lewis’ 1 pm arrival. Once the crowd settled, Dickens introduced the John Lewis Freedom Parkway task force members, other dignitaries, Mayor Keisha Bottoms, and finally John Lewis. Dickens shared that there was a connection between John Lewis and Freedom Parkway due to Lewis’ career long commitment to civil rights. Dickens shared that Freedom Parkway and Ponce De Leon Ave were the selected cross streets not just because of the original street name but also because the section remains the only highway in Atlanta that is solely a green space, void of business infrastructure.

Additionally, new features added to the already existing John Lewis Plaza, were unveiled. With the support of KaBoom, a children’s health awareness organization, the city was able to make upgrades to the park area. These changes were inspired by Lewis’ career in Civil Rights and public service, as well as his graphic novels, the Mark trilogy. Monica Prothro, Art Program Manager with the City of Atlanta shared that the Freedom Play Space is nearing completion. Additional interpretive signage and a bus honoring the Freedom Riders will be installed before year’s end.

John Lewis Freedom Parkway and additions to John Lewis Plaza are just two public spaces in Atlanta, named in honor of Representative John Lewis. During his speech, Lewis shared that he is personally championing a day when the human race can achieve solidarity. It is likely Lewis’ career long track record of working to fulfill such an ideal that has resulted in the City of Atlanta commitment to honoring his name and legacy. If you are interested in visiting a public space in Atlanta to connect with American, African American, and Civil Rights history know that John Lewis Plaza located at the corner of the newly renamed John Lewis Freedom Parkway and Ponce De Leon Northeast, is a good place to do so.

Alfred Jackson, Slave Turned “Tour Guide”

Meet Mr. Alfred Jackson. Having lived his life as an enslaved person at Andrew Jackson’s the Hermitage, he became a “tour guide” when the Ladies’ Hermitage Association turned the home into a historic site in 1889. Historian W. Fitzhugh Brundage, author of “The Southern Past” expressed “we can only wonder [how] Alfred’s position—an aged former slave who was dependent on his storytelling and white audiences for his livelihood—influenced his voiced memory.” Still, Jackson is recognized for his ability to give a first person account of the way in which the Hermitage mansion functioned as an office and gathering hall for Andrew Jackson who served as President of the United States from 1829 – 1837.

The Hermitage located in Nashville, Tennessee consists of 1,000 acres of land, where cotton was once the cash crop, worked by enslaved African American men, women and children.

Alfred Jackson’s story as an enslaved person and “tour guide” is included in the Hermitage’s current interpretive history offerings. Today, visitors can learn about Alfred’s story through an audio and walking tour, the museum’s multimedia exhibit, and the cabin he and his family resided in as freedmen. Alfred Jackson’s burial site is also located in the garden near Andrew Jackson

Image 1: Alfred Jackson.

Image 2: Alfred Jackson pictured in his home, a cabin that he shared with his wife post-slavery. Note the bed and water cooler. Those were items that Alfred purchased at a Hermitage house auction.

Image 3: Alfred Jackson “tour guide” alongside visitors at the Hermitage historic site.

[photos courtesy of Andrew Jackson Foundation | Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage]

Just Added to “Cultural & Natural Resource Directory”: Emancipation Park

Photo Source: Emancipationconservatory.org

Added Emancipation Park (Houston, TX) to the “Cultural & Natural Resource Directory”

On June 19, 1865 word was finally received in Houston, Texas that slaves were freed with the Jan 1, 1863 signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. From there, June 19 became an annual day of commemoration.

African Americans were banned from using area public parks which resulted in Reverend Jack Yates to lead Antioch Baptist Church and Trinity Methodist in forming the Colored People’s Festival and Emancipation Park Association. The group raised $1000 and in 1872 purchased 10 acres of land in Houston Texas as a home for the Juneteenth Celebration – it was named Emancipation Park.

[source: emancipationparkconservancy.org]

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center (part 1 of 2)

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Photo by Sophia V. Nelson/The Merging Lanes Project

Meet Mary Dennard-Turner, part of the Maryland Park Service staff at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center located in Church Creek (Dorchester County) Maryland.

An area native. For several years she has been an active member of the local heritage preservation society. She was retired when the Maryland Park Service approached her to work as a greeter at the visitor center. She said when she retired as a corrections officer she told herself she’d never wear another uniform again. Yet, there she was, complemented by that beautiful white, green and red Maryland Park Service seal; one of the first faces to greet a few groups and I when we entered the visitor center on Tuesday.

She shared she had just crossed over the 1 year mark as a seasonal employee and is enjoying herself.

More on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center to come.