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Today in Black History, 07/30/2015 | The Lott Cary Birth Site

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July 30, 1980 The Lott Cary Birth Site also known as the Lott Cary House near Charles City, Virginia was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The wooden frame house was built in the late 18th century. It actually was owned by Cary’s owner and Cary, who was born enslaved in 1780, probably was born in the slave quarters adjourning the house. Cary learned to read from the bible as a young man and later attended a school for enslaved youth. Because of his education, diligence, and valuable work, he was rewarded by his owner with small tips from the money he earned. Cary was able to purchase his freedom and that of his two children for $850 in 1813. That same year, he became an official Baptist minister. Cary led a missionary team to Liberia in 1821 and engaged in evangelism, education, and health care. He also established the first Baptist church in Liberia, the Providence Baptist Church in Monrovia which celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2001, and several schools. He became acting Governor of Liberia in August, 1828. Cary died November 10, 1828. Cary Street and the Carytown shopping district in Richmond, Virginia are named in his honor. The Lott Cary Foreign Mission Convention helps churches extend their Christian witness to the end of the earth. “Biography of Elder Lott Cary, Late Missionary to Africa” was published in 1837.

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Today in Black History, 07/29/2015 | Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church

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July 29, 1794 Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was dedicated. Mother Bethel was founded by Richard Allen and organized by African American members of St. George’s Methodist Church who walked out due to racial segregation in their worship services. The current structure was built in 1890 and is the oldest church property in the United States continuously owned by African Americans. Bishop Allen, his wife Sarah, and Bishop Morris Brown are entombed in the current structure. The church today has approximately 700 members. Mother Bethel was designated a National Historic Landmark March 16, 1972 and a Pennsylvania Historical Marker was dedicated in 1991.

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Today in Black History 07/28/2015 | Joseph Charles Jenkins

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July 28, 1959 Joseph Charles Jenkins, the first officially recognized African American commissioned officer in the United States Coast Guard, died. Jenkins was born in 1914 in Detroit, Michigan. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Michigan and his Master of Business Administration degree from Wayne State University. In the late 1930s, Jenkins helped organize what would become the 1279th Combat Engineer Battalion of the Michigan National Guard in the late 1930s. Jenkins enlisted in the coast guard in 1942 as a boatswain’s mate first class and was quickly promoted to chief. After completing officer training, he was commissioned an ensign April 14, 1943. Jenkins completed active duty with the coast guard in 1945 and returned to the Michigan National Guard in the African American Engineering Unit where he rose to the rank of captain. He resigned from the guard in 1947 and went to work with the Michigan State Highway Department where he was the assistant director of the Metropolitan Detroit area at the time of his death.

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Today in Black History 07/27/2015 | James Edward Maceo West

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July 27, 2007 James Edward Maceo West received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honor the United States confers on people for achievements related to technological progress, from President George W. Bush. West was born February 10, 1931 in Farmville, Virginia. He was fascinated with electronics as a young boy. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in physics from Temple University in 1957. After graduating, he was hired by Bell Laboratories as an acoustical scientist. West and a co-worker developed the foil electret microphone in 1962 and received patent number 3,118,022 January 14, 1964. Their device was inexpensive to manufacture, compact, durable, and could hold a charge without being connected to a power source. Approximately 90% of microphones used today are based on their invention, including telephones, hearing aids, baby monitors, and other everyday items. Also while at Bell Labs, West co-founded the Association of Black Laboratory Employees to address placement and promotional concerns of Black Bell Laboratory employees. West retired in 2001 is currently a research professor at John Hopkins University. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1998 and inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1999.

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Today in Black History 07/26/2015 | President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981

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July 26, 1948 President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981 which partly stated “It is hereby to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.” The order also established a committee to investigate and make recommendations to the civilian leadership of the military to realize the policy. The last of the all-Black units in the United States military was abolished in September, 1954.

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Today in Black History 07/25/2015 | John Cornelius “Johnny” Hodges

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 July 25, 1906 John Cornelius “Johnny” Hodges, hall of fame jazz alto saxophonist, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Hodges was mostly self-taught. He is best known for his solo work with Duke Ellington’s big band, being prominently featured on recordings such as “Confab with Rab,” “Jeep’s Blues,” and “Hodge Podge.” Hodges played with Ellington from 1928 to 1950 when he left to lead his own band. Recordings with Hodges as lead include “Castle Rock” (1951), “Blues-A- Plenty” (1958), and “Triple Play” (1967). Hodges died May 11, 1970. Ellington stated in his eulogy that Hodges had “a tone so beautiful it sometimes brought tears to the eye.” Hodges was posthumously inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1970.

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Call of The Drum Start Tomorrow: Complete Schedule Here!

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Call of the drum

11 AM - 9 PM DAILY • FREE ADMISSION!

This weekend, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, with the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, celebrates humanity's ubiquitous cultural instrument by hosting Call of The Drum, an exciting, outdoor, cross-cultural musical festival.

This FREE 2-day family-friendly event includes interactive drumming circles, workshops, children's activities, food trucks, and live performances representing cultures all around the world. Feel, hear, and dance to the sounds of Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Caribbean and MORE!!! Headlining performers include AfroHORN with Francisco Mora (July 25) and Bill Summers (July 26).

Lawn seating only. Please bring picnic blankets or lawn chairs for your comfort and enjoyment.

Saturday, July 25th

MAIN STAGE
11:45 am Dan Schmatz Percussion Orchestra (American Drumline)
12 pm Steelworks Steeldrum Band (Caribbean)
1 pm Vencedores Band (Brazilian Samba)
3 pm Godaiko Drummers (Japanese)
4 pm Percussion Sumkali (Indian Percussion)
5 pm Amen-Ra (African)
7 PM: AfroHorn featuring Francisco Mora (Afro Cuban)

ON THE GROUNDS 
11:05 am Invocation Drumline Procession led by Dan Schmatz Percussion Orchestra
To join the procession, meet by the Warren entrance to the museum at 10:30 am 
12 - 2 pm Drumline procession 
12 - 6 pm Arts & Scraps Children’s Workshops
1 - 5 pm BombaRica Interactive Drum Circle/Dance Performance 
2 - 5 pm Aisha Ellis Drum Circle 
2:15 pm Steelworks Steeldrum Band (Caribbean)
4 pm Godaiko Drummers (Japanese)
4 pm Ogichidaa Kwe Singers (Native American)
4 pm Francisco Mora Drum Clinic (Afro Cuban) 
5 pm Ogichidaa Kwe Drum Clinic (Native American)
5 pm Percussion Sumkali Drum Clinic (Indian)

Sunday, July 26th

MAIN STAGE
11:45 am Red Percussion Orchestra (American Drumline)
12 pm Percussion Jugalbandi (Indian Percussion)
1 pm Amen-Ra (African)
2 pm The Michigan Center for Capoeira Team (Brazilian Batukada + Capoeira)
3 pm Godaiko Drummers (Japanese)
4 pm Southpaw (Caribbean Steeldrum) 
5 pm Marquis Johnson (American)
6 pm Drum Competition*
7 PM: Bill Summers featuring Detroit Artists (Afro Fusion)

ON THE GROUNDS
11:05 am Invocation Drumline Procession led by Red Percussion Orchestra
To join the procession, meet by the Warren entrance to the museum at 10:30 am
12 - 6 pm Arts & Scraps Children’s Workshops
1 pm Caribbean Mardi Gras Productions
1 pm Percussion Jugalbandi Drum Clinic (Indian)
1:30 - 3 pm Bill Summers Drum Clinic (Afro Fusion)
2 pm Drum Circle presented by Drummunity
2:30 pm Steeldrum Drum Clinic with Mark Stone (Caribbean)
3:30 – 5 pm Aisha Ellis Drum Circle 
4 pm Godaiko Drummers (Japanese)

*Onsite registration for the Drum Competition begins at 5 PM Sunday; competition to begin at 6 PM. Free to enter. Not all entrants will have the opportunity to compete due to time constraints.

“Whenever people gather to play the drum, the world is a better place…”
Babatunnde Olatunji


Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
315 East Warren Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48201-1443
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General Info - (313) 494-5800
Group Tours and Reservations - (313) 494-5808
Facility Rental - (313) 494-5801

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Today in Black History 07/24/2015 | Caterina Jarboro

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July 24, 1908 Caterina Jarboro, the first Black opera singer to sing on an opera stage in the United States, was born Katherine Lee Yarborough in Wilmington, North Carolina. Jarboro was sent to Brooklyn, New York at 13 to study music. She also studied in Paris, France and made her grand opera debut in Milan, Italy in “Aide” in 1929. She continued to sing in France and Italy until 1933 when she joined the Chicago Opera Company and became the first Black singer to sing on an opera stage in the U. S. After her final engagement with the Chicago Opera in 1935, Jarboro sang for four seasons in Europe. She returned to the U. S. in 1941 and retired as a singer in 1955. Jarboro died August 13, 1986.

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Today in Black History 07/23/2015 | William Grant Still

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 July 23, 1936 William Grant Still became the first African American to conduct a major American orchestra when he conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Still was born May 11, 1895 in Woodville, Mississippi but raised in Little Rock, Arkansas. He attended Wilberforce University where he conducted the university band and started to compose. After serving in the United States Navy during World War I, he worked as an arranger for W. C. Handy and later played in the pit orchestra for the musical “Shuffle Along.” Still was the recipient of the first Guggenheim Fellowship in 1934. His opera “Troubled Island” (1939) was performed by the New York City Opera March 31, 1949, the first opera by an African American to be performed by a major opera company. Despite selling out the first three nights and receiving 22 curtain calls on opening night, the opera was shut down, never to be staged again. “Just Tell the Story: Troubled Island” (2006) delves into some of the reasons why. Still eventually moved to Los Angeles, California where he arranged music for films, including “Pennies From Heaven” (1936) and “Lost Horizon” (1937). He received honorary doctorate degrees from a number of institutions. Still died December 3, 1978. His opera “A Bayou Legend” became the first opera by an African American to be performed on national television when it premiered on PBS June 15, 1981. His biography,” In One Lifetime: A Biography of William Grant Still”,” was published in 1984.

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IXITI.COM: Music is Universal at the Call of the Drum Festival

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By Hillary Brody, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

“Life itself and the universe is based upon rhythm. Period.”

Bill Summers, internationally renowned percussionist and folklorist—and native Detroiter—brings this ideology to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History’s Call of the Drum: International Drum Summit this Saturday and Sunday, July 25 and 26.

The drum summit, a recipient of a Knight Arts Challenge grant, which takes place on the grounds of The Wright Museum, seeks to unite the many different cultures who call Metro Detroit home through the universal language of percussion music.

Piper Carter, event co-coordinator, says that, “the vision is to have a multicultural drum summit, where we acknowledge the various cultures from around the world that incorporate drumming.” This includes over 15 different groups and musical styles, including Afro Latino, Caribbean, Japanese, Indian, Native American, African and Arabic. One such group is the Ogichidaa Kwe Singers, formerly known as the Detroit Area Women’s Hand Drum Group, a group of women representing several Native American Nations.

The free event, which runs from 11 am to 9 pm each day, will include simultaneous drum performances around the museum, so that attendees can hear the different drum interpretations throughout the day. At 7 pm each night, these styles will fuse together for big band performances. On Saturday, the headliners Detroit-based Latin jazz percussionist Afro Horn MX with Francisco Mora Catlett merge jazz, African rhythms, Cuban folklore, spoken word and Mexican Magic Surrealism. On Sunday evening, Bill Summers, featuring several local musicians, will take the stage to close out the summit. He describes his planned performance as “an anthology” that will “go across the planet, and then wind up with contemporary music that [he] wrote with Herbie Hancock.”

The Wright’s message of the universality of the drum, one of the world’s oldest known instruments, was an exciting proposition for the participating artists. Piper cites how many of the musicians are excited that “Detroit is doing something multicultural,” that unites multiple cultures together instead of focusing on one or two.

Additionally, the event seeks to embrace and educate music lovers of all ages, with an instrument making workshop for children hosted by Arts and Scraps from 1 to 5 pm each day, stilt walkers, various drum circles, and of course, food trucks.

Summers looks at the weekend as “a great honor. Coming back to the place you’re born, and participating in a major festival. It’s like going to the Olympics and winning a gold medal. When your city honors you and values your contributions, and represents drumming in an international setting, that’s a great honor.”

For museum president and CEO Juanita Moore, she is both excited and thankful to see her grand idea come to fruition.

"We are so grateful for the Knight Arts Challenge funded by the Knight Foundation for making a 250-word idea a reality," said Moore. "Since the beginning, drumming has created rhythms that convey messages, evoke feelings, and speak a language that everyone understands. Call of the Drum celebrates this universal language."

Summers expands: “Everything on the planet, including your body, if it wasn’t for rhythm, you wouldn’t exist.”

His love for rhythm and the drum extends beyond the stage. “I consider the basketball a floating drum. It’s a rhythm thing. It’s hitting the floor constantly. A good player will probably make a very good drummer, or vice versa.”

Hear these many different rhythms and beats this weekend at what is hopefully just the first drum summit to unite Detroit’s sounds.

For the full weekend schedule, click here

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President's Message, July 2015

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Juanita Moore, President & CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African Americ
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In June, as part of an international salute to African American theater with 30 other arts organizations around the world, The Wright hosted a staged reading of “HOME” by Samm-Art Williams to honor the 35th anniversary year of the play’s Broadway debut, and the 150th anniversary of the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution ending slavery. The play asked, what is “home?”

I speak without hyperbole when I say that, to the City of Detroit and communities we serve throughout the region, The Wright Museum IS a home – a home for learning and growth, and for healing and hope, through exploring our shared history of adversity and achievement.

Everyone here at The Wright is committed to that legacy – whether through providing free bus transportation for 20,000 Title I students, or presenting over 200 public programs annually fostering experiential engagement with history, literacy, the Arts, health and fitness, S.T.E.A.M., social justice, financial wellness, and more – all for children and families, young and old, rich or poor. The Wright Museum opens minds and changes lives through the exploration and celebration of African American history and culture – and we believe that not only can the answers our society seeks be found throughout our shared experience, but that those answers belong to ALL of us. Inclusivity is in our values; sharing is something we do in THIS home.

The Wright is HOME to thousands of summer visitors returning to Detroit for family reunions, and who include the museum as a part of their family.

The Wright is HOME to the three-decade-old African World Festival, which fuels economic vitality for hundreds of community vendors serving hundreds of thousands of attendees from around the world.

The Wright is HOME to a half million people served every year through our exhibits, events, and educational websites providing teaching resources and tools for learning about and engaging in our nation’s history.

It is truly an honor that so many people, from so many communities, consider this museum their home. What happens when we leave home? Well, hopefully, we return, again and again, each time bringing with us new insights about life, love, and learning.

So please – come back again and again, and each time, The Wright will be here to welcome you home!

Click here to download our July 2015 Member Newsletter

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Today in Black History 07/22/2015 | Emlen Lewis Tunnell

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July 22, 1975 Emlen Lewis Tunnell, the first African American inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died. Tunnell was born March 29, 1925 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. After serving two years in the United States Coast Guard during World War II, he played college football at the University of Iowa. He played quarterback, halfback, and on defense and led the team in passing in the 1946 season and receiving in the 1947 season. Tunnell began his professional football career with the New York Giants in 1948, the first African American to play for the team. Tunnell played in the National Football League for 14 seasons and was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection. When he retired in 1961, he held the record for career interceptions with 79. After retiring, Tunnell served as a scout and assistant coach with the Giants. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame August 5, 1967. Tunnell published his autobiography, “Footsteps of a Giant”, in 1966. 

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Today in Black History 07/21/2015 | The National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs

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 July 21, 1896 The National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs was founded in Washington, D.C. by the merger of the National Federation of Afro-American Women, the Women’s Era Clubs of Boston, and the Colored Women’s League of Washington, D.C. Their original mission was, “to furnish evidence of the moral, mental and material progress made by people of color through the efforts of our women.” Membership had grown to 300,000 nationwide by 1918. Today, their objectives include working for the economic, moral, religious and social welfare of women and youth, protecting the rights of women and youth, raising the standard and quality of life in home and family, enforcement of civil and political rights for African Americans and all citizens, promoting the education of women and youth, obtaining for African American women the opportunity of reaching the highest levels in all fields of human endeavor, and promoting inter-racial understanding so that justice and goodwill may prevail among all people.

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Call of The Drum is Upon Us! The Wright's Weekly Update July 20 - 26

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SESSIONS FILLED for Summer Camp Africa: Healthy Habits
Monday - Friday, July 13 - August 14
PLEASE NOTE: ALL SESSIONS FOR SUMMER CAMP AFRICA HAVE BEEN FILLED. THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST! Camp Africa: Healthy Habits is a FREE week-long day camp open to children ages 7 – 12. During this 5-day session (repeating weekly for five weeks), children will learn about Africa's cultural and geographic diversity; participate in hands-on S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) activities focused on the topic of healthy habits; and develop and exercise crucial skills in the areas of vocabulary, literacy, and the visual arts. Camp Africa runs Monday - Friday from 8 AM to 3:15 PM daily. Camp Africa is made possible by the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Click here to learn more...
CASOE Youth Theater presents Purple Floors & Diamond Doors ($)
Friday, July 24 at 7:30 PM
Purple Floors & Diamond Doors is a theatrical event produced by The CASOE Group featuring some of metro Detroit’s most talented young adults. For more information call (313) 340-0829.

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CALL of The DRUM: An International Drum Summit
Friday & Saturday, July 25 & 26 from 11 AM - 9 PM Daily
Drumming is universal and as old as humankind. Celebrates humanity's ubiquitous cultural instrument at Call of The Drum, an exciting, outdoor, cross-cultural musical event. This FREE 2-day family-friendly festival includes interactive drumming circles, workshops, children's activities, food trucks, and live performances representing cultures all around the world. Feel, hear, and dance to the sounds of Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Caribbean and MORE! Headlining performers include Francisco Mora & Afro Horn (July 25) and Bill Summers (July 26). Call of The Drum was one of the top 10 vote receivers for the 2014 Knight Arts Challenge from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Free. Click here to learn more...

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Meet the Scientist featuring R.J. Watkins & Henry Tyler
Saturday, July 25 at 2 PM
Do you know a curious student, a young Einstein, or a future tech wizard who is always thinking of the next big thing? Bring them to discover and explore science with activities led by scientists and technologists with the hands-on exhibit, "Inspiring Minds: African Americans in Science and Technology!" For July, meet R.J. Watkins, Founder / CEO of WHPR Radio 88.1 FM, UHF Television Channel 33, and Comcast Channels 20 and 90, and Henry Tyler, Vice President of Productions and Program Director. Both will talk about the science behind the broadcast industry. Free. Click here to learn more...

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Hustle for History Weekly Dance Lessons ($)
Sunday, July 26 at 5 pm
Get your groove on with our weekly hustle lessons, taught by instructor Thomasenia Johnson of Two Left Feet. Free for Members, $7 for non-members. Purchase 5 lessons and receive a complimentary museum membership, making your next 12 months of hustle lessons FREE! Click here to learn more...
To see all upcoming events, please click here!


Current Exhibitions

And Still We Rise: Our Journey Through African American History and Culture
The core experience of The Wright Museum, this 22,000 square-foot exhibition takes visitors through time and across geographic boundaries from prehistoric Africa all the way to modern-day Detroit. Throughout, the efforts of everyday men and women who built families, businesses, educational institutions, spiritual traditions, civic organizations and a legacy of freedom and justice are hailed. Click here to learn more...

Inspiring Minds: African Americans in Science & Technology
This high-tech exhibition highlights trailblazers, contemporaries and careers in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. African Americans have contributed to the scientific and engineering output of the United States since the 17th century, and this history is brought to life through interactive computer kiosks, a touchscreen video wall, and hands-on activities and play areas. Inspiring Minds introduces individuals from across the spectrum of fields, levels of renown, and from times past and present, with highlights on African American women in science, black aviators, black inventors, medical ethics, and key historical figures such as George Washington Carver. Click here to learn more...

Shadow Matter: The Rhythm of Structure – Afro Futurism to Afro Surrealism
Through August 30, 2015
This one-man show features works by New York sculptor and Inkster, Michigan-native M. Scott Johnson. Scott’s education as a sculptor began in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, where he studied traditional and contemporary stone sculpting under master sculptor, national hero and elder statesman of Zimbabwe stone sculpture Nicholas Mukomberanwa (1940 - 2002). Scott’s work has also been strongly influenced by African American techno music, Ndyuka and Saramaka graphic art forms, Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi, and Makonde sculpture. Click here to read more...


The Nataki Way: 36th Anniversary of the Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse of Detroit
Through October 11, 2015
Carmen and George N'Namdi founded the Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse of Detroit (NTSD) in 1978 to honor the memory of their fourteen-month-old daughter, Nataki Talibah N'Namdi, who died in 1974. The names Nataki and Talibah are from central Africa; Nataki (Nah-TAH-kee) means of high birth and Talibah (Tah-LEE-bah) means seeker after knowledge. In 1995, NTSD was chartered as a public school under Central Michigan University. After 36 years of hard work, the NTSD continues to uplift students from diverse backgrounds and help them embody the varying roles each of us must play to improve our world. Click here to learn more...

I, Charles H. Wright: My Story
Through March 6, 2016
This year, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History reaches a milestone in the history of the institution - its 50th anniversary. To celebrate this august achievement the museum presents an exhibition centered around the life of the man who started it: Charles Howard Wright, M.D. (1919-2002). A great physician, an intellectual of incredible insight, and a man of solemn dedication to his community, through words and images, documents and objects, the exhibition summarizes his expansive legacy. Click here to learn more...

Finding Mona Lisa 313
Through September 13, 2015
"Finding Mona Lisa" is a program providing travel and cultural development opportunities for Detroit youth founded by artist, educator, and entrepreneur Jocelyn Rainey. The late Gilda Snowden observed that the Finding Mona Lisa students are the works of art, with the different places they've traveled being their canvases. The exhibition features large photographs of the students' travels. Click here to learn more...


Become a Member Today!

Members of the The Wright Museum enjoy benefits such as:
• Free admission to the museum
• Free guest pass(es)
• Invitations to Members' Only previews
• Free subscription to the quarterly membership newsletter,
The Wright Times

• 10% discount in the museum store
• Special pricing on select museum events
• 20% off meals at Union Street Restaurant

Unless otherwise noted with ($), all events are FREE and open to the public.
HOURS
Monday - Saturday, 9 am - 5 pm
Sunday, 1 - 5 pm

ADMISSION
Adults (13 - 61) $8
Seniors (62 +) & Youth (3 - 12) $5
Free for members & children under 3

Click Here for Current Exhibitions

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
315 East Warren Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48201-1443
Click here for a Google Map

General Info - (313) 494-5800
Group Tours and Reservations - (313) 494-5808
Facility Rental - (313) 494-5801

Become A Member | Donate | Museum Brochure

The Wright Museum™

 

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Today in Black History, 07/20/2015 | The first National Conference on Black Power

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July 20, 1967 The first National Conference on Black Power convened in Newark, New Jersey with Nathan Wright, Jr. as the chairman. More than 1,000 delegates representing 286 organizations and institutions from 126 cities gathered to discuss the most pressing African American issues of the day. A Black Power Manifesto was officially adopted which condemned “neo-colonialist control” of Black populations worldwide and called for the circulation of a “philosophy of Blackness” that would unite and direct the oppressed in common cause.
 

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Today in Black History, 07/19/2015 | Patricia Roberts Harris

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July 19, 1979 Patricia Roberts Harris became the first African American woman to hold a post in a presidential cabinet when President Jimmy Carter appointed her Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. Harris was born May 31, 1924 in Mattoon, Illinois. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, from Howard University in 1945 and graduated at the top of her class from the George Washington University National Law Center in 1960. President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed her Ambassador to Luxembourg May 19, 1965, the first African American to serve as a United States Ambassador, where she served until 1967. Harris was named dean of Howard University’s School of Law in 1969, a position she held until 1972. President Carter appointed Harris Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in 1977 and on this date she became Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and served until 1981. She was appointed a professor at the George Washington University National Law Center in 1982, a position she held until her death March 23, 1985. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in her honor in 2000 and she was posthumously inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2003. The Patricia R. Harris Education Center in Washington, D. C. is named in her honor.
 

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Today in Black History 07/18/2015 | Nelson Mandela

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on Saturday, 18 July 2015
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July 18, 1918 Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the first South African president elected in a fully representative democratic election, was born in Mvezo, South Africa. Mandela enrolled at Fort Hare University but was expelled because of his involvement in a Students’ Representative Council boycott against university policies. He completed his Bachelor of Arts degree and earned his law degree at the University of South Africa in 1942. Mandela became active in politics after 1948, playing a prominent role in the African National Congress’ 1952 Defiance Campaign and the 1955 Congress of the People. He became leader of the ANC’s armed wing in 1961 and coordinated sabotage campaigns against military and government targets. With the help of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, the South African government arrested Mandela in 1962 and he spent the next 27 years in prison. Following his release from prison in 1990, Mandela returned to the leadership of the ANC and between 1990 and 1994 led the party’s negotiations with the government for multi-racial elections. Mandela was elected President of South Africa in 1994 in the country’s first multi-racial election. He served as president until his retirement in 1999. He was listed as one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2004 and 2005 and one of the 100 Most Influential People of the Century. Mandela founded The Elders in 2007, a group of world leaders who contribute their wisdom and independent leadership to address the world’s toughest problems. He was also active in the fight against AIDS. Mandela received more than 250 awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize December 10, 1993 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, from President George W. Bush July 9, 2002. The United Nations General Assembly announced in 2009 that July 18 would be known as Mandela Day to mark his contribution to world freedom. His autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” was published in 1994 and “Conversations with Myself,” a collection of his writings and interviews, was published in 2010. Mandela died December 5, 2013. His name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

 

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Today in Black History 07/17/2015 | Robert Clifton Weaver

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on Friday, 17 July 2015
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 July 17, 1997 Robert Clifton Weaver, the first African American to hold a cabinet level position in a United States President’s administration, died. Weaver was born December 29, 1907 in Washington, D. C. He attended Harvard University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, in economics in 1929, his Master of Arts degree in 1931, and his Ph. D. in 1934. Weaver was an expert on urban housing and wrote several books on the subject, including “The Negro Ghetto” (1948) and “The Urban Complex: Human Values in Urban Life” (1964). Weaver was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson the first Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in 1966, a position he held until 1968. After leaving the cabinet post, Weaver became president of Baruch College in 1969 and professor of urban affairs at Hunter College in 1970, from which he retired in 1978. Weaver was awarded the 1962 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal and the HUD headquarters building was renamed the Robert C. Weaver Federal Building in 2000. Robert Clifton Weaver Way in northeast Washington, D. C. is also named in his honor.

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Today in Black History 07/16/2015 | Ida B. Wells

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on Thursday, 16 July 2015
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July 16, 1862 Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, journalist and civil and women’s rights activist, was born enslaved in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Wells was freed at the end of the Civil War. She attended Rust College but was expelled for her rebellious behavior after confronting the president of the college. She became co-owner and editor of Free Speech and Headlight, an anti-segregationist newspaper in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1889. In 1891, a grocery store owned by three Black men was perceived to be taking away a substantial amount of business from a White owned grocery store across the street. The Black owned store was invaded by a mob resulting in three White men being shot and injured. The three Black owners, who were friends of Wells, were jailed and subsequently lynched. The murder of her friends sparked Wells’ interest in investigative journalism about lynching and becoming the leader of the anti-lynching crusade. She published “Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in all Its Phases” in 1892 and “A Red Record, 1892-1894,” which documented lynchings since the Emancipation Proclamation, in 1895. Wells and other Black leaders organized a boycott of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois to protest lynchings in the South. Wells was also significantly involved in the founding of the National Association of Colored Women, the National Afro-American Council, which later became the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Women’s Era Club, which was renamed the Ida B. Wells Club. She spent the latter 30 years of her life working on urban reform in Chicago. Wells died March 25, 1931. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in her honor in 1990. “Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells” was published in 1970. Her life is also the subject of a musical drama, “Constant Star,” which debuted in 2006. The Ida B. Wells Housing Project in Chicago is named in her honor. Wells-Barnett’s name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan. 

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Today in Black History 07/15/2015 | All-Negro Comics

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July 15, 1947
All-Negro Comics, the first known comic magazine written and drawn by African American writers and artists, was copyrighted. The only known issue of the magazine was a 48-page, standard sized comic book with a glossy color cover and newsprint interior and a June, 1947 issue date. The magazine sold for 15 cents. Time magazine referred to the magazine as “the first to be drawn by Negro artists and peopled entirely by Negro characters.”

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