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.”
“The Cutting Edge of Public History: New Directions in Interpretation” Conference got its start at the National Museum of American History.
Pictured is an exhibit, commemorating the Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit-Ins. In photograph 2, you may notice that the mirror which also doubles as a media player, captures the reflection of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Out of 120,000 square feet in the American History Museum, the lunch counter and accompanying mirror managed to find itself in a space that incorporates neighboring building National Museum of African American History and Culture in its narrative.
Do you think this was strategic exhibit planning or coincidence?
Pictured is Cheyney McKnight, an Atlanta native and founder of interpretation company, “Not Your Momma’s History”. Raised in a home that encouraged her to learn everything from Civil Rights to the Great Migration, McKnight would eventually go on to attain a political science degree from Simmons College.
Immediately after, she spent 3-years of independent study, traveling to archives and historical sites in NY, VA and Pennsylvania. Then she started participating in Living History Re-enactments, which can be defined as a portrayal of everyday activities such as cooking, cleaning, and medical care from a particular historical period. Her first re-enactment was during the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. She portrayed a 22 year-old freewoman of color
McKnight is committed to influencing diversity in Living History interpretations. She recognizes the voice it can lend to contemporary movements such as Black Lives Matter.
Today, there is a small representation of Black Living Historians and she is committed to changing that. She is confident that in 10 years she will not be the only one doing this forecasting, “there will be 20 black women living historians just in New York” alone.
In 2004 The Hecht Company building located at 7th and F street was renovated and renamed Terrell Place. It was named after Mary Church Terrell who in 1950-1951 at the age 80+, joined/maybe even lead others in picketing Hecht’s…demanding that the store integrate their segregated lunch counter.
“Bowing to pressure, in January 1952, Hecht’s announced that the entire store was open to all.”