Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery “One Year: 1968 An American Odyssey”

Photos: Courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery

(Washington, DC) In 1962 The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery was established by an act of Congress as a “free public museum…depicting men and women who have made significant contributions to the history, development and culture…of the United States.” The Portrait Gallery opened to the public in 1968.

“One Year: 1968 An American Odyssey” celebrates the museum’s 50th anniversary in a one-room exhibition and is comprised of 30 objects including “photographs, paintings, drawings and magazines that highlight a time when Americans were questioning issues of leadership, citizenship and nationhood.” This temporary exhibition is on display through May 19, 2019

Image 1: Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown by James Hinton, Jr

Image 2: Jimi Hendrix by unidentified artist; Image 3: Eldridge Cleaver by Stephen Shames

Image 4: Resurrection City in Washington DC by Oliver Atkins

Image 5: Gallery View

Poor People’s Campaign Exhibit at Ben & Jerry’s Factory

Pictured is National Museum of African American History and Culture curator, Dr. Aaron Bryant, walking alongside Ben & Jerry Ice Cream co-founder Jerry Greenfield. Dr. Bryant curated a display which depicts the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign “against racism, poverty, and militarism.” The exhibit was recently unveiled to the public and will be on display at Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, VT through Dec 31, 2018.

The Poor People’s Campaign (Poor People’s March on Washington) was organized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference – the march was carried out by Ralph David Abernathy, Sr., after the passing of Dr. King. The march started in Marks, Mississippi on May 12 1968, concluding in Washington, DC 50 years ago today June 24, 1968.

Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, VT is the regions largest tourist attraction, welcoming around 400,000 visitors per year. Ben & Jerry’s CEO, Jostein Solheim shared “These issues are as pressing today as they were 50 years ago. We’re hoping these images will inspire people to join the [current] Poor People’s Campaign for racial and economic justice.”

[source: Cision PR Newswire]

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.

Michael Rosato’s Cambridge (Maryland) African American Heritage Mural

The African American Heritage Mural is located at the corner of Maryland Avenue and Route 50 in Cambridge, Maryland. 

Oooo I didn’t plan to capture this beauty today. I saw photos of it about a year ago, circulating online after its unveiling. But when it appeared to the right of me as I was driving by, I just had to pull over || Here is a description found on muralist, Michael Rosato’s website: “A mural highlighting Cambridge, Maryland’s rich African-American history, culture and heritage, particularly in the community around Pine Street, which is one of the oldest African-American communities in the country that dates back to the mid-1800s. Acrylic on board || I plan to look up the history of Pine Street. …Hey! There’s my girl Gloria Richardson !!in the yellow dress. Read about her while taking an African American history class at Georgia State University. It amazed me how Richardson was instrumental in a civil rights movement that spilled over into small town Maryland during the 1960s. I included Image 4, to give you a bit of context. Many are familiar with that picture of Richardson ~ “The Historian”

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Soon come: African American Cultural Center in Virginia Beach

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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]

African-American Civil War Museum: First Time Visitor, Geronimo Knows

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By Geronimo Knows

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?

-Geronimo Knows