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The Wright Museum Hosts Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series 2014 Competition

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Bombay Sapphire Gin and the Russell and Danny Simmons’ Rush Philanthropic Art Foundation have partnered to present the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series competition and opportunity to help an artist from the United States become the “Next Big Name in Visual Arts,” at SCOPE MIAMI BEACH in Miami Beach, Florida. The Charles H. Wright Museum is hosting the regional competition for the State of Michigan. All artists, emerging and professional, are welcome to participate. The competition is free and no purchase is required. The deadline to submit your artworks - online only - is August 16, 2014.

Visions

“Visions” by Lobyn Harrison. Harrison was the winner of the Detroit Regional Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series 2013. He went to Miami where his phenomenal work was exhibited to wide acclaim! You can view his piece in the Past Exhibits on the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series 2014 website.

The Competition
The Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series provides a means of selecting some of the nation’s best artists and sending them to the internationally acclaimed Scope Miami Beach international art show. Jurors will select semi-finalists from the Michigan regional works. These artists will have their pieces unveiled in an exhibition at tThe Wright Museum in November - December 2014. One regional finalist will make the trip to SCOPE MIAMI BEACH for the grand finale event.

There, the top three pieces will earn a spot in the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Artisan Series Mural Project in their local market while the Grand Finale Winner will get a solo show of their own at SCOPE NEW YORK in March 2015. 

For official contest rules and how to enter, click here to visit the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Artisan Series website.

The Opportunity
While many artists are invited to the SCOPE MIAMI BEACH, many, many more never get a chance to participate on this extraordinary world stage. The Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series serves as a feeder to this astounding event. One of Michigan’s artists will win—it could be you, but you must enter the competition. The deadline is August 16, 2014, but we want the entries to be in by August 15th. Also, our objective is to have more artist entries than the other regions, including Chicago and New York. Click on past winners at to see the Michigan regional winner.

As a special service to the Michigan arts community, the Wright Museum will help anyone who does not have access to the Internet to complete their online application and upload images of their work. Artists must have photographs of their work. For additional information or computer assistance, please contact Jennifer Evans at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by telephone at (313) 494-5818.

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New Music Video Features Acting Cameo by Acclaimed Opera Singer George Shirley

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In this recently released video by musical artist Aloe Blacc for his song, Hello World (The World is Ours), 2014 Wright Museum partner, acclaimed Metropolitan Opera Singer and Grammy Award-winning University of Michigan Professor George Shirley makes an acting cameo. This past March, The Wright Museum and Videmus, as part of the George Shirley Education and Outreach Initiative, presented a masterclass for students to work directly with Mr. Shirley.

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President's Message, July 2014

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The song of summer is upon us, and I am happy to report several pieces of what I call our Grace & Mercy news: an award of $1 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support children's programming, and a donation of $100,000 from LJ Holdings Investment Company CEO and museum Trustee Jon E. Barfield. We are so grateful to the Kellogg Foundation and Mr. Barfield, and to the hundreds of others who have stepped up since the beginning of the year to help support the institution envisioned by Dr. Charles H. Wright, whose 96th birthday will be commemorated at this year’s Legacy Dinner Saturday, September 20. As we come closer to the 50th anniversary of the founding of the museum, it is incumbent upon all of our stakeholders that we move beyond thinking of our gifts as merely support, but also sustenance – an ongoing source of funding that by its very nature will insure the sustainability of The Wright for its next 50 years. Our history and the gifts of our ancestors require nothing less.

But still, like dust, (we’ll) rise.

Jon Barfield knows this, as his $100,000 gift is but one of several he and his wife, Dr. Vivian Carpenter, have made over the years, including the hosting of fundraisers in their home. So does Howard Sims, who provided a $100,000 match to the Give A Grand, Make a Million campaign. Then, there is our Alma Greer. A retired teacher, principal, and 30-year veteran of the Highland Park School Board, Greer made it a point to take her kindergarten class to visit the International Afro-American Museum when Dr. Wright and his partners opened it in 1965. In 2013, she dedicated her 80th birthday celebration to the museum by asking family and friends to raise funds in lieu of birthday gifts. And just this past June, her foundation made it possible for a group of kindergarten students to not only visit, but also enjoy a fine dining experience – something many of them had never had the opportunity to do before.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still (we’ll) rise.

For a living institution like the museum, the work, and financial need, never ends. Like time and tides, they have their ebb and flow. But the very real effort of attracting talent, expanding capacity, and building towards sustainability has never been greater, or more necessary. We are at a cusp, having attracted over a quarter of a million guests this past year for the first time in our history, with the promise of so many, and so much, more. We must go from "good to great," from great to awesome, and awesome to (nationally) accredited.

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain…

Bringing the gifts that (our) ancestor(s) gave…

As the late Maya Angelou said, "We need to remember that we are created creative and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed." In making my appeal that your continued gifts to The Wright be seen as necessary to allowing it to enact its mission with the highest levels of scholarship and service, and in accordance with the stature and dignity of the history and pride it represents, I hope Maya will forgive my liberties with her poem that inspired the name of our core exhibit, And Still We Rise.

"Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
- Isaiah 43:19

Together, we will.

 

3Q-newsletter-2014-thumb

Click here to download our July 2014 Member Newsletter

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Young Thurgood: The Making of a Supreme Court Justice; free lecture & book signing features the only biography endorsed by Marshall’s family

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Young-ThurgoodProfessor and scholar Dr. Larry S. Gibson will discuss and sign copies of his latest book, Young Thurgood: The Making of a Supreme Court Justice, the only biography on the celebrated jurist Thurgood Marshall to be endorsed by his family. This free takes place Saturday, March 1, 2014, at 2 pm at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Detroit.

Young Thurgood: The Making of a Supreme Court Justice is an exhaustively researched and engagingly written work that will be of interest to any everyone interested in law, civil rights, and American history. Thurgood Marshall was the most important American lawyer of the twentieth century. He transformed the nation's legal landscape by challenging the racial segregation that had relegated millions to second-class citizenship. He won twenty-nine of thirty-three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, was a federal appeals court judge, served as the U.S. solicitor general, and, for twenty-four years, sat on the U.S. Supreme Court. But Marshall's personality, attitudes, priorities, and work habits had crystallized during earlier years in Maryland.

Young Thurgood is the first close examination of the formative period in Marshall's life. Dr. Gibson presents fresh information about Marshall's family, youth, and education. He describes Marshall's key mentors, the special impact of his high school and college competitive debating, his struggles to establish a law practice during the Great Depression, and his first civil rights cases. The author also sheds new light on the NAACP and its first lawsuits in the campaign that led to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision, and corrects some of the often-repeated stories about Marshall that are inaccurate.

About the Author

Larry S. Gibson is a professor of law at the University of Maryland, Francis King Carey School of Law, where he teaches Evidence, Election Law, Race and the Law, and Civil Procedure. Gibson is a graduate of Howard University and Columbia University School of Law and has practiced law in Maryland. Also a civil rights activist and advocate, Gibson participated in the 1963 March on Washington, engaged in sit-in demonstrations, and lobbied for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He has also acted as legal counsel to several civil rights organizations and leaders.

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President's Message, February 2014: Rochelle Riley Writes: "Do The Wright Thing!"

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By now you’ve probably seen one of Rochelle Riley's columns about the financial needs of The Wright Museum in the Detroit Free Press:

"Wright museum needs financial footing in Detroit bankruptcy plan,"

"Detroit's African-American museum needs to be spared, too,"

"Who will step up to inspire the Wright museum's salvation?"

We are most grateful for Rochelle’s words of support, and in response, the outpouring of support we’ve received from the community. Rest assured, with your help the museum is not going anywhere. But the columns do make an important point – that The Wright needs both city and community support to be sustainable, and there’s no better time than Black History Month, when all eyes are trained on the museum and its programming, to make those needs known. 

Dr. Carter G. Woodson, known as the founder of Black History Month and “father” of Black history, could only dedicate a few months per year to schooling, and didn’t enter high school until the age of 20. By his 37th birthday, however, he had earned his Bachelor of Literature degree from Berea College in Kentucky, served as a school supervisor in the Philippines, was awarded Bachelor of Arts and Masters degrees from the University of Chicago, and completed his PhD in history at Harvard University, only the second African American (after W.E.B. DuBois) to do so. Dr. Woodson understood the impact education and knowing one's history could have, as illustrated by his fervent commitment to it. He believed all people needed to know and understand African American history, both as a source of pride and self-respect for Black people, and as a basis for equality and respect from society as a whole.

Dr. Charles Wright wanted much the same thing, and The Wright is a direct result of his passion for African American history and culture, and belief in the impact access to it could have on the community. As Rochelle stated, “Leaders… realized that the museum’s value was not just in teaching African-American children about their heritage, but… in teaching all Americans about African-American contributions through history.”

Nevertheless, support from the City of Detroit, which owns the museum, its property, and its collections, has dropped more than 63% since 2009, and staffing has been reduced by 66%. We have done everything possible to do more, with less. Your support now can help us do more than ever before. Please give.

African American history was clearly worthy of the passion and interest of Dr. Woodson and Dr. Wright, and is certainly worthy of our support. You can do the “Wright” thing today – and there’s no better time than Wright now!

do-the-wright-donate-now2

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The Wright Museum Hosts Screening & Discussion of “The House I Live In;” Sundance Grand Jury Prize-Winning Documentary Offers Poignant and Disturbing Look at the Devastating Impact of the War on Drugs

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The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History will host a free screening of the thought-provoking documentary, “THE HOUSE I LIVE IN” on Thursday, January 30 at 6:30 pm. Immediately following will be a panel discussion featuring the film’s producer along with local activists and educators. This event is free and open to the public, and takes place at the museum, located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Detroit.

Since the 1970’s the war on drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests and cost more than $1 trillion. As a result, the United States has become the world’s largest jailer, and the high volume of drug arrests have destroyed low-income communities, creating a vicious cycle that must be stopped. Written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Eugene Jarecki, “THE HOUSE I LIVE IN ” offers a poignant look inside U.S. drug policy and its far-reaching impact. Executive Producers include Danny Glover, John Legend, Russell Simmons, and Brad Pitt. The film won the prestigious Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Following the screening will be panel discussion and Q&A session with the film’s producer, David Kuhn, who is partnering with a vast array of advocacy groups, legislators and law enforcement to spread the film’s message about the disastrous consequences of the failed war on drugs. Local panelists include Vondra Glass, Principal, Detroit Premier Academy; Yodit Mesfin Johnson, Director of Business Development, NEW; Kirk Mayes, Executive Director, Brightmoor Alliance; poet, author, and activist Jessica Care Moore; and author and community activist Yusef Shakur. This special event is hosted and moderated by recording and performance artist Mike Ellison.

THE HOUSE I LIVE IN Official Trailer:

WWW.THEHOUSEILIVEIN.ORG

www.Facebook.com/DrugWarMovie

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at The Wright Museum; Museum’s most popular day of the year features Commemorative Breakfast celebration, activities for the entire family

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The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History presents the 14th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Commemorative Breakfast Monday, January 20, 2014 beginning at 8 am. The breakfast precedes a full day of activities honoring Dr. King and his legacy at the museum,located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, on its most popular day of the year.

Hosted by the Women’s and Friends’ Committees of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the breakfast, an annual fundraiser for the museum, will feature a keynote by Reverend Dr. Carlyle Fielding Stewart III, Senior Pastor, Hope United Methodist Church; Charleston, South Carolina contemporary violinist Daniel Davis performing a MLK tribute entitled The Dream Today; China Cochran, Lyric Soprano; 2013 Miss Michigan American Sweetheart Isabella Vesprini; and the Institute of Music & Dance at Marygrove College. To mark the 40th anniversary of the city’s first African American mayor taking office, the posthumous Honorary Chair of the breakfast is Mayor Coleman A. Young, with his friend, the Honorable Damon J. Keith of the United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, as Honorary Co-Chair.

The Wright Museum opens to the public at 9 am with a full day of activities, and will remain open until 7 pm. The day’s schedule includes arts & crafts, children’s activities and workshops; a musical performance by contemporary violinist Daniel Davis; screenings of the museum-produced documentary, A King Among Us; displays of Martin Luther King artifacts including a recently donated, signed copy of Dr. King’s 1964 book, Why We Can’t Wait, and two gifts of General Motors: the Table of Brotherhood, signed by luminaries such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Spike Lee, and an official maquette (scale model) of the Martin Luther King National Memorial in Washington, D.C.; and a morning book signing by the Honorable Damon J. Keith for Crusader for Justice: Federal Judge Damon J. Keith, written by Peter J. Hammer and Trevor W. Coleman with a foreword by Mitch Albom.

Additionally, the museum will open its latest traveling exhibition, Point of View: African American Art Masters from the Elliot and Kimberly Perry Collection, which features works by modern masters such as Henry Ossawa Tanner, William Edouard Scott, Elizabeth Catlett, James Van Der Zee, and many others. Point of View is a two-part exhibit drawn from the impressive African American and African Diaspora art collection of Elliot and Kimberly Perry, presented in partnership with the Flint Institute of Arts, which is displaying the collection’s contemporary works. Elliot Perry, a former professional basketball player, started to collect mid-to late 20th century African American art in 1996, and has said that his passion for art now rivals his love for basketball. This collaboration allows visitors to see both exhibitions with the purchase of one ticket.

Tickets for the Commemorative Breakfast are $35 and can be purchased online at www.TheWright.org, by calling (800) 838-3006, or at the museum during normal business hours. Discounted group tickets are available for $30 each when purchased in groups of 10, and all breakfast tickets include admission to MLK Day activities at the museum. Doors open at 7 am and breakfast will be served promptly at 8 am in the museum’s Ford Freedom Rotunda.  Valet parking will be available.

crusaderforjustice smMLK Day activities and exhibits are free with museum admission, which is $8 for adults (ages 13-61), $5 for seniors (62+) and youth ages (3-12), and free for museum members and children under 3. The first 100 visitors to the daylong celebration will receive a signed copy of Crusader for Justice: Federal Judge Damon J. Keith with the purchase of a museum membership or Commemorative Breakfast ticket, courtesy of the Ford Motor Company Fund.

About Crusader for Justice: Federal Judge Damon J. Keith

The Honorable Damon J. Keith was appointed to the federal bench in 1967 and has served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit since 1977, where he has been an eloquent defender of civil and constitutional rights and a vigorous enforcer of civil rights law. In Crusader for Justice: Federal Judge Damon J. Keith, authors Peter J. Hammer and Trevor W. Coleman presents the first ever biography of native Detroiter Judge Keith, surveying his education, important influences, major cases, and professional and personal commitments. Along the way, the authors consult a host of Keith's notable friends and colleagues, including former White House deputy counsel John Dean, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and industrialist Edsel Ford II for this candid and comprehensive volume.

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Liberation Film Series presents The FBI’s War on Black America & The Assata Shakur Autobiography Documentary; Free double feature & discussion focus on historic and continuing persecution

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Long before the revelations of potentially unconstitutional activities by the NSA and other governmental agencies, as recently disclosed by high profile whistleblowers Mark Klein, Julian Assange, Michael Hastings, Bradley Manning, and Edward Snowden, there emerged in the 1950s COINTELPRO (Counterintelligence Program), a covert operation crafted by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and his Deputy Director, William Sullivan. COINTELPRO was initially aimed at U.S. communists and their organizations, but its focus later shifted to discredit, disrupt, and destroy the Black Nationalist Liberation Movement, and to neutralize its leaders. There was also evidence the CIA, State Department, Army Intelligence and other federal, state and local governmental agencies conspired to destroy global anti-colonial liberation movements, of which the U.S. Black Liberation Movement was an integral part.

The Liberation Film Series’ 2013 – 2014 season continues with a special double-feature screening of The FBI’s War on Black America and The Assata Shakur Autobiography Documentary, followed by a discussion and Q&A on historic and continuing attacks on the Black Liberation Movement and its activists with "Comrade Mother" Akua Njeri, widow of Chairman Fred Hampton, Sr., and her son, Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. This free event takes place Saturday, January 18, 2014, at 2 pm at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Detroit.

At 4:30 am on December 4, 1969, fourteen Chicago policemen, aided by a floor plan provided by paid informant William O’Neal, raided the apartment of Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton. The policemen, who were allegedly there to serve a search warrant for illegal weapons, were armed with shotguns, handguns and a .45 caliber machine gun. Hampton, just twenty-one years old, and apparently drugged by the informant, was repeatedly shot in his bed. Black Panther Defense Captain Mark Clark was also assassinated in this criminal raid.

Illinois State Attorney General Edward V. Hanrahan and the media claimed the Panthers had opened fire on the police, evidence later emerged that told a much different story: that the FBI, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, and the Chicago police conspired to assassinate Chairman Fred Hampton. Noam Chomsky described Hampton’s killing as “the gravest domestic crime of the Nixon administration” which “overshadow[ed] the entire Watergate affair by a substantial margin.”

On May 2, 1973, Black Panther activist Assata Olugbala Shakur, formerly Joanne Deborah Chesimard, was stopped by the New Jersey State Police, shot twice with her arms raised, and charged with the murder of a police officer. Assata spent six and a half years in prison before escaping from the maximum-security wing of the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey in 1979 and moving, as a political refugee, to Cuba. 

Assata made the following statement,My name is Assata (‘she who struggles’) Olugbala (‘for the people’) Shakur (‘the thankful one’), and I am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the U.S. government's policy towards people of color. I am an ex-political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984. I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I participated in various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement, and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the Black Panther Party. By 1969, the Black Panther Party had become the number one organization targeted by the FBI's COINTELPRO program. Because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it ‘greatest threat to the internal security of the country’ and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and activists.”

On May 2, 2013, Assata Shakur was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list, becoming the first woman to do so. In addition, the state of New Jersey announced it was adding $1 million to the FBI’s $1 million reward for her capture.

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History’s Liberation Film Series: 2013 - 2014 Season, entitled Injustice & Resistance!, brings into focus the escalating injustice experienced by people of African descent in America today. The purpose is to leverage the collective knowledge of scholars, students, community activists and the grassroots community in a meaningful conversation that focuses on the examination of important films of our history.

The Liberation Film Series is supported by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Black Studies Departments of Michigan State University, University of Michigan - Dearborn, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, Wayne State University, Eastern Michigan University, Wayne County Community College District, Oakland University, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, and Dr. Errol Henderson (University of Pennsylvania), Media Education Foundation, National Council of Black Studies, The Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University, Wayne State University Press, Black White Look Optical, ASALH-Detroit, community activists, and individual contributors. Charles Ezra Ferrell, a consultant to The Wright Museum, is the LFS Founder and Program Director.

The 2013 - 2014 season of the Liberation Film Series runs through June 2014, and is free and open to the public. For more information, including the complete series schedule and respective speaker profiles, discussion topics, trailers, reading lists, supplemental educational links, and insightful statements of endorsement, please visit www.TheWright.org/liberation.

About “Comrade Mother” Akua Njeri

“Comrade Mother” Akua Njeri (also known as Deborah Johnson) is a former member of the Illinois Chapter Black Panther Party. She is a survivor of the December 4, 1969 assassination of Chairman Fred Hampton and Defense Captain Mark Clark. She is the widow of Chairman Fred and the mother of Chairman Fred Jr.

Njeri is the Chairperson of the December 4th Committee that fights to defend and maintain the legacy of the Black Panther Party. December 4th co-coordinates, with Prisoners of Conscience Committee (P.O.C.C.), the annual August 30th birthday celebration of Chairman Fred Hampton, and the life, work, and commemorative events around the annual December 4th International Revolutionary Day, and the anniversary of the "Massacre on Monroe" - the assassination of Chairman Fred Hampton and Defense Captain Mark Clark.

Njeri is the co-author of the proposal to name 1 Chicago Block of 2300 W. Monroe "Chairman Fred Hampton Way," a campaign that exposed the dividing line between the interests of the state against the demands of the people. Njeri coordinates free clothing and fresh vegetable giveaways with P.O.C.C. and other survival programs. She also is on the board of the Advisory Committee for P.O.C.C.

About Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr.

Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. is a political activist and the son of Fred Hampton, Sr. His father was a Black Panther who was killed by the Chicago Police in 1969. Hampton's mother “Comrade Mother” Akua Njeri (Deborah Johnson), who was also shot, was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with him when Hampton Sr. was killed in her presence during the pre-dawn police raid. Hampton Sr. was 21 at the time of his death; Johnson was 19.

Hampton, Jr. has followed his father's legacy, becoming prominent in Black Nationalist politics. In 1990, he became the president of the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement, is currently the chairman of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee (P.O.C.C.), and actively tours the country as a speaker and community activist.

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President's Message, January 2014

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Juanita Moore, President & CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African Americ
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You’re a child who has spent your entire life in the city. On a tour of the museum with your classmates, you travel back to the dawn of civilization in Africa, cross the Atlantic Ocean to witness religious traditions in Brazil, and learn about ingenious scientific advances made by African Americans – and careers you might pursue today. Your world has been enlarged beyond your wildest imaginings, and now you think, “What if?”

So begins our most recent fundraising appeal, with a story representing one of the thousands of experiences engendered by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Where else can one travel from prehistoric Africa to the present, enjoy the beauty of art from around the world, be transported by the words and voices of writers and poets to places you’ve never visited, and follow ancestral pathways to freedom, all without ever leaving Detroit? The Wright Museum is where these journeys happen every day, for visitors from all walks of life – young and old, black and white, city resident and suburbanite. For many who have never ventured outside of the metropolitan region, especially children, these experiences empower their dreams and expand their world views.

At our 2013 Annual Meeting held December 5, we took a look back at the many accomplishments of the past year:

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Liberation Film Series presents “Negroes With Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power;” Free film screening & discussion focus on Black self-defense

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The documentary film Negroes With Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power tells the dramatic story of Robert F. Williams (1925 - 1996), an often-forgotten civil rights leader who urged African Americans to arm themselves against violence and oppression. In doing so, Williams not only challenged the Klan-dominated establishment of his hometown of Monroe, North Carolina, he alienated the mainstream Civil Rights Movement, which advocated peaceful resistance. A free film screening and accompanying discussion on Black self-defense take place Saturday, November 23, 2013, at 2 pm at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Detroit.

The story told in the documentary, Negroes With Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power, is a remarkable, yet widely unknown, portrayal of Robert Williams, one of America’s most important leaders in the 20th century and of the black liberation movement. Williams was president of the Monroe, North Carolina NAACP, president of Republic of New Africa and Chairman of Revolutionary Action Movement, and lived in forced exile in Cuba, China and Tanzania. Negroes With Guns focuses on Williams’ militant fight for African American human rights, armed self-defense and self-determination against the KKK, police, the FBI, and civil rights pacifists.

Following the conversation will be a discussion with Williams’ son, Reverend John C. Williams, Esq.; Dr. Gloria House (Aneb Kgositsile), Director of African-American Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, who wrote and will read from the Forward to the book Negroes With Guns; and General Baker, Jr., a founding member of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers who visited Cuba in 1964 specifically to meet Robert F. Williams and later distributed Williams’ banned The Crusader Newsletter in the United States. Robert William’s wife, Mabel Ola Williams, and brother, John H. Williams, will be special guests, and Detroit Council Member JoAnn Watson will present an official City proclamation.

After reflecting on the life and legacy of Robert F. Williams, Dr. Aneb Kgositsile (Gloria House) stated the following, "A man of immense personal courage and vision, Robert Williams's fight and example compel us to be vigilant now, and to resist racist violence as it pervades and fractures every aspect of our lives, steadily eroding our human rights."

General Baker, Jr. added, “Robert F. Williams accomplished more in one lifetime than the average person could accomplish in three! U.S. - China relations during the Kissinger-Nixon period occurred because of Robert F. Williams’ work as a scholar-researcher and consultant at the Center of Chinese Studies at University of Michigan (Ann Arbor).”

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History’s Liberation Film Series: 2013 - 2014 Season, entitled Injustice& Resistance, brings into focus the escalating injustice experienced by people of African descent in America today. The purpose is to leverage the collective knowledge of scholars, students, community activists and the grassroots community in a meaningful conversation that focuses on the examination of important films of our history.

The Liberation Film Series is supported by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Black Studies Departments of Michigan State University, University of Michigan - Dearborn, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, Wayne State University, Eastern Michigan University, Wayne County Community College District, Oakland University, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, and Dr. Errol Henderson (University of Pennsylvania), Media Education Foundation, National Council of Black Studies, The Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University, Wayne State University Press, Black White Look Optical, ASALH-Detroit, community activists, and individual contributors. Charles Ezra Ferrell, a consultant to The Wright Museum, is the LFS Founder and Program Director.

The 2013 - 2014 season of the Liberation Film Series runs through June 2014, and is free and open to the public. For more information, including the complete series schedule and respective speaker profiles, discussion topics, trailers, reading lists, supplemental educational links, and insightful statements of endorsement, please visit www.TheWright.org/liberation.

About Reverend John C. Williams, Esq.
At the tender age of eight, John was actively involved in the struggle for civil and human rights led by his parents in their home town of Monroe, NC. In the summer of 1961, the Williams family was forced to leave their hometown and country of birth under the threat of violence and death. As a result of this government-sanctioned racism, the Williams family went into political exile for eight years during which time they continued the struggle by bringing into focus on the international level the plight of African Americans in the United States.

At the age of nineteen, John C. Williams returned to the U.S. with his parents and older brother. Upon returning to the States, John received a B.A. Degree in Chinese Studies at Michigan State University and graduated with a Juris Doctorate degree from Indiana University, School of Law at Indianapolis.

John C. Williams has been a resident of Detroit for thirty years, twenty-nine of which have been committed to ministering the Gospel of Jesus Christ. During this period John has also worked with Detroit and other regional Public Schools, Life Directions, Inc., Joy of Jesus Ministries, Inc., People’s Community Services, Inc., Focus Hope, Inc. and a host of other youth and human development entities striving to make our world a better place for all.  Since 2003 John has served as Pastor of Cass Park Baptist Church located in the Cass Corridor of Detroit.

About Dr. Aneb Kgositsile (Gloria House)
Dr. Aneb Kgositsile (Gloria House), Ph.D is a Professor of Humanities and African American Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and Director of the African and African American Studies Program. Dr. House is also Associate Professor Emeritus in the Interdisciplinary Studies Department of Wayne State University, where she was a member of the faculty for twenty-seven years. During her career at Wayne State University, Dr. House won distinction as an excellent teacher, a pioneer in comparative cultural studies, and a leader for more equitable treatment of minority students, faculty and staff.

Dr. House earned her bachelor's degree in French and Political Science and her master's degree in Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley. Her doctorate in American Culture was completed at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she was a CEW Scholar and recipient of a Rackham Fellowship.

About General Baker, Jr.
General Gordon Baker, Jr. is a national and internationally-known labor leader who has been called the most important 21st century American revolutionary. He was a leader of the Detroit wildcat strikes in the 1960s, a founder of the legendary League of Revolutionary Black Workers, Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM), and the first American to refuse induction to fight in Vietnam. His case was a landmark in draft resistance, symbolizing the beginning of the anti-war movement. He travelled to Cuba and met Che Guevara and religiously listened to Robert F. Williams' radio show, "Radio Free Dixie," broadcasted from Cuba.

In the book, Detroit: I Do Mind Dying - about the worker revolts of that era - General Baker is cited as the "soul of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM)." DRUM was the driving force behind the wildcat strikes. The ideas emanating from that period inspired Black autoworkers throughout America.

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The Wright Museum Hosts Sean Blackman’s In Transit Concert; Award-winning world music performer highlights popular art exhibit with Afro Brazilian performance and lecture

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Award-winning world music performer and Detroit native Sean Blackman will take concert goers on a musical journey from West Africa to the shores of Brazil and beyond on November 16, 2013, at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

Performing a dynamic mix of Brazilian classics and original compositions including traditional African songs, ballads, bossa nova, high-life Afro-sambas, dancing, and more, the In Transit ensemble will feature Pathe Jassi (Senegal); Mady Kouyate (Sengal); Detroit's own Wendell Harrison; Nanny Assis, renowned Afro Brazilian percussionist and vocalist from Bahia, Brazil; and Ibrahima "Thiokho" Diagne, master drummer from Senegal and percussionist for Grammy award-winning artist Angelique Kidjo. Attendees receive complimentary admission to the Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints: Popular Art of the Northeast of Brazil exhibit open both before and after the performance. Tickets are $30 each or $20 each for museum members, and can be purchased at the museum, online at TheWright.org, or by phone at (800) 838-3006. Doors will open at 6 pm the evening of the performance, with the concert starting promptly at 7 pm.

Earlier in the day at 1 pm, the museum will host a lecture as a part of this Afro Brazilian celebration, with Sean Blackman demonstrating through different instruments and rhythms the migration of music around the globe. This family-friendly event includes a visual presentation mirroring the geographic journey, and Q&A period. The lecture is free with museum admission, which is $8 for adults (ages 13-61), and $5 for seniors (62+) and youth (3-12). Admission is free for museum members and children under 3.

About Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints: Popular Art of the Northeast of Brazil
Organized by Con/Vida – Popular Arts of the Americas, in partnership with The Wright Museum, Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints includes nearly 200 works of art by more than 50 artists. The first major U.S. traveling exhibit on art from this region of Brazil, it tells the story of how African, European, and indigenous cultural traditions have interacted over a period of more than 500 years in the largest country in South America. The exhibit remains on display until January 5, 2014, after which it will travel to the DuSable Museum, Chicago, Illinois; the Robert W. Woodruff Library at the Atlanta University Center, Atlanta, Georgia; and the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina. Funding has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Michigan Humanities Council, with additional support from Wayne State University, TechTown, and the Adrian Dominican Sisters.

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Underground Railroad Expert to Speak on the Legacy of Black Resistance; Free Event at The Wright Museum Celebrates Launch of New History Website

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Humanities scholar Mr. Hari Jones, Curator/Assistant Director of the National African American Civil War Museum of Washington D.C., will speak on the Underground Railroad and its legacy of Black resistance at a free event to mark the launch of a new educational website Sunday, November 10, 2013, at 2 pm at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

Created over three years with the collaborative effort of the museum, Eastern Michigan University’s School of Education, Michigan-based scholars, and with backing from the U.S. Department of Education, The Struggle Against Slavery website (www.UGRRonline.com) contains historical scholarship on the 19th century struggle for civil rights, using the Underground Railroad as a case study. It situates the American abolitionist movement as an important precursor to later and continuing struggles for civil rights. Designed for all ages, the website includes encyclopedic entries, interactive maps, and video interviews of descendants of abolitionists and freedom seekers, with a focus on activities in Michigan and the Midwest. In addition to numerous iconic photos and artworks, many visual elements included in the project have rarely been seen.

The website’s educational resources include K-12 lesson plans, classroom-ready PowerPoint presentations, and downloadable instructional materials, including a complete online course consisting of 12 lectures by Dr. Roy Finkenbine, Professor of History at the University of Detroit-Mercy. Voices of the Civil War, The Wright Museum’s monthly retrospective video series on African American perspectives during the great conflict, is also integrated into the site.

The November 10 launch event is free and open to the public, and will include a screening of select segments of the PBS film The Abolitionists as well as the lecture by Mr. Jones, noted scholar and expert on the Underground Railroad who has appeared on C-SPAN, NPR, and other national media outlets.

The Struggle Against Slavery is made possible by the United States Department of Education. Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle is made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

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Literacy: We Are the Change Summit Conference to be held November 14; organizers hope to inspire community to eradicate illiteracy in Detroit within 5 years

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The challenge Detroit faces in respect to literacy should be news to no one. The awareness of this problem, however, has not yet reached a crescendo that compels concerted action across multiple fronts, and with the collaborative cooperation of the major spheres of societal influence and interest. The organizers of a new event centered on the issue of literacy aim to change that.

Presented by Beyond Basics, which provides targeted reading, writing, art and mentoring activities to students in participating Detroit schools; and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History; the Literacy: We Are the Change Summit Conference will bring together under one roof leaders from the business, education, foundation, government, and non-profit communities. The goal is to discuss, devise, and enact strategies with the expressed purpose of eradicating illiteracy in the City of Detroit within 5 years.

The conference takes place Thursday, November 14, 2013, at The Wright Museum, located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Midtown Detroit. Following registration and networking from 8 until 9 am, attendees will hear from two plenary speakers: Martín Gómez, Vice Dean of University of Southern California (USC) Libraries and former head of the Los Angeles Public Library system, the largest public library system in the United States; and Carol Goss, President of The Skillman Foundation. Two roundtable discussions will follow. The first, on the facts of literacy, will include Jared David, Jared W. Finney High School; Lou Glazer, Michigan Future Inc.; Pam Good, Beyond Basics; Dr. Glenda Price, Detroit Public Schools Foundation; and Dr. Darryl Taylor, Cranbrook Schools Horizons-Upward Bound. The community outreach roundtable will involve Paula Brown, Reading Works; Ben Erulkar, Detroit Regional Chamber; Kirk Mayes, Brightmoor Alliance; and Michael Tenbusch, United Way for Southeastern Michigan. Other panelists have been invited and will be added as they are confirmed. The event will conclude with a strolling lunch reception at 11:30 am in the museum’s rotunda.

The Literacy: We Are The Change Summit Conference is free, but space is limited and an RSVP is required by November 12. To RSVP please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call (313) 494-5863. The conference is made possible by the financial support of Quicken Loans.

About Beyond Basics

Beyond Basics is a child-centered, literacy nonprofit serving students in the lowest performing schools since 2002 by providing tutoring and supplemental programs – writing, art, mentoring, and partnerships – for students in grades Pre-K through 12. The work done by Beyond Basics staff and volunteers has been proven to help school children in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods change their destinies. Within six weeks, the Beyond Basics program typically has children reading at grade level or above. For more information please visit beyondbasics.org.

About The Wright Museum

Founded in 1965 and located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is the world's largest institution dedicated to the African American experience. For more information please visit TheWright.org.

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Author & Scholar to Speak on Midwest Renaissance & Origins of Black Chicago & Detroit; DPTV and The Wright Museum Team Up to Help Educators Teach Black History

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During the period known as the Great Migration, over 5 million African Americans moved north and west across the United States in search of a better life. Author, scholar, and professor of African American Studies and History at Northwestern University Dr. Darlene Clark Hine will discuss African American geographic movement and its impact on American history in a free lecture Thursday, October 24, 2013, at 6 pm. Preceding the lecture will be a special professional development opportunity for educators centered on the new PBS mini-series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. Both programs take place at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Detroit.
 Clark-Hine
Dr. Darlene Clark Hine’s historical research has been expansive and groundbreaking, and she has written a variety of scholarly works and textbooks, many of which are used in high school and college settings. Dr. Hine’s recent work on the impact of the Great Migration to Midwestern cities like Chicago and Detroit sheds light on the ways in which African Americans created and re-created a sense of cultural community and renaissance in the midst of oppressive conditions. After the lecture, Dr. Hine will sign copies of The Black Chicago Renaissance (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012), co-edited by Darlene Clark Hine and John M. McCluskey. This free event is co-sponsored by the Detroit organizing branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).
 
Detroit Public Television, in partnership with The Wright Museum and The Michigan Historical Museum, will host a professional development opportunity from 1 pm until 5 pm on Thursday, October 24, 2013, in which educators will have an opportunity to tour The Wright Museum, hear from an expert on Michigan’s African American history, learn about local history resources, and be given a demonstration of the educational resources and lesson plans offered with The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. This six-part mini-series is hosted by scholar-activist Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and examines the 400-year history of African Americans, from the origins of slavery in Africa to President Obama’s election. It premieres on DPTV on October 22, 2013, at 8 PM EST. Staff members from LAB@Thirteen and WNET’s Educational and Community Outreach Department in New York will lead the series overview and lesson plan demonstration.
 
The professional development opportunity program is free for educators, but attendees should RSVP by contacting Heather Forgione at Detroit Public Television at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (248) 305-3707. The Great Migration lecture and book signing by Dr. Darlene Clark Hine is free and open to the public.

Educators-Event-10.24.13-revised2

About Dr. Darlene Clark Hine

Since 2004, Darlene Clark Hine has been Professor of African American Studies and Professor of History at Northwestern University. Previously, she was Professor of History at Michigan State University (1987-2004). She has taught at Purdue University (1974-1987), and at South Carolina State University (1972-1974). She is a graduate of Roosevelt University (1968, Chicago, IL) and earned her PhD at Kent State University (1975). Hine is the author of Black Victory: The Rise and Fall of the Democratic White Primary in Texas (1979, rev. 2005, University of Missouri Press); and Black Women in White: Racial Conflict and Cooperation in the Nursing Profession, 1890-1950 (Indiana University Press, 1989). She is co-editor (with Rosalyn Terborg-Penn and Elsa Barkley Brown) of Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia ( 2 vols.1994), and editor of Black Women in America (3 vols, Oxford University Press, 2005). She is co-editor with Trica Daniele Keaton and Stephen Smalls of Black Europe and the African Diaspora (2009). Hine is past-president of The Organization of American Historians, and of The Southern Historical Association. She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2006). Hine has held fellowships at the National Humanities Center, The Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, and at the Radcliffe Institute.

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President's Message, October 2013

Posted by Juanita Moore
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Autumn provides an opportunity for reflection amidst the unceasing changes and cycles of life. The same holds true for The Wright Museum, which can be said to have its own annual cycles of growth and renewal. Of course, this doesn't mean the museum slows down in manifesting its mission through lively exhibits and events, including the Liberation Film Series, Noel Night, or our ever-popular Kwanzaa celebrations. But given the extraordinary accomplishments of the past few months, I’d like to reflect on a concept critical to our work: Legacy.



Everyone involved in the museum, from its Board of Trustees, staff, and volunteers, to donors, members, and visitors, are a part of continuing the legacy begun by Dr. Charles Wright and his visionary partners in 1965. The 2013 Wright Gala, held September 28 at MGM Grand Detroit, was the culmination of three years of intense effort led by museum trustee Yvette Bing. Mrs. Bing, museum board chair Betty Brooks, and their committed host committee have produced a legacy event in The Wright Gala that has helped keep the museum operating.

Another example of legacy building is that of museum member Thomas K. Burke, founder of the Jackson, Michigan-based Save Our Youth Inc., who has brought groups to the museum each of the past three years. This past August, Mr. Burke, with support from the Jackson Area Civil Rights Association, brought youth from homeless shelters to tour the museum, with each child receiving a museum backpack as a souvenir of their visit. Can you imagine the impact a visit like this will have on a homeless child's life? We salute Mr. Burke and his organization for instilling a legacy of dignity and pride in children most in need.

Finally, we were pleased to hear that on May 10, 2013, Louisa Wright Griggs received her M.D. degree from the University of Illinois School of Medicine, and is proudly following in the footsteps of her grandfather, Dr. Charles H. Wright, and specializing in obstetrics and gynecology. During her last rotation in medical school, Louisa spent seven weeks in Ghana working at two medical facilities thanks to a scholarship from the National Medical Fellowship Foundation – paralleling her grandfather’s work in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Liberia with Operations Crossroads Africa and the U.S. Department of Public Health. Dr. Wright Griggs, the daughter of William and Stephanie Wright Griggs, has started her residency at Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. We wish her the very, very best in continuing the legacy of Dr. Wright’s caring and care for the community.

Legacy lives and breathes at The Wright Museum, in these stories, and those yet to be told. Speaking of which, on November 10, 2013, the museum launches The Struggle Against Slavery, a digital history website that features extensive information about the Underground Railroad, including online courses, an interactive map and timeline, interviews with historians, educational resources, and much more. Made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, this project and event will speak to the legacy of the Underground Railroad and black resistance. We hope you will join us, as well as log on to www.UGRRonline.com, November 10.



Click here to download our October 2013 Member Newsletter

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The Wright Museum Will Shine a Light in Detroit's Darkest Neighborhoods; Knight Foundation Challenge Grant-Winning Project To Illuminate with City’s Elders

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What is being done for Detroit’s neighborhoods? It's a common refrain amidst the revitalization taking place in the city’s Midtown and downtown areas. Thanks to a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History has an answer - lighting up some of its darkest neighborhoods with projections of Detroit’s elders.

In December 2012, 40% of the 88,000 lighting fixtures in the city of Detroit were broken or in need of repair. This situation literally and metaphorically leaves tens of thousands of citizens in the dark, and has come to symbolize the darkness of desolation, danger, and abandonment.

One of the 56 winners of Detroit’s Knight Arts Challenge, The Wright Museum’s “Shine a Light” project will dispel the darkness with images of those who have commanded respect and provided hope through two long term, large-scale video installations, and one mobile installation that will travel to Detroit’s darkest neighborhoods. Each will illuminate the legacy, vitality and fabric of Detroit, providing safe passage for city residents while honoring elders and ancestors who have nurtured generations of families and communities.

One such elder is Alma Greer. A retired teacher, principal, and 30-year veteran of the Detroit Board of Education, Greer made it a point to take her kindergarten class to visit the International Afro-American Museum when Dr. Charles Wright and his partners opened it in 1965. Now, she’s dedicating her 80th birthday celebration to the museum by asking family and friends to raise funds for the “Shine a Light” project in lieu of birthday gifts. The Knight Foundation Challenge grant provides $120,000 over two years for the project, but requires that the museum raise matching funds. “Scarves and perfume are nice,” Alma states, “but what would make this birthday special is the act of giving to the museum so that ‘Shine a Light’ can be made as inspiring as I know it can be.”

The museum has commissioned distinguished filmmaker Julie Dash to create these works of public art, engaging her unique capacity to imbue moving images with ancestral spirituality. Dash, best known for her groundbreaking 1991 work, Daughters of the Dust, the first feature film by an African American woman to receive general theatrical release, most recently held the Bob Allison (Allesee) Endowed Chair in Media at Wayne State University. Working in collaboration with a team of Detroit-based media artists, she will gather the silent, moving images, expressions and gestures of Detroit elders as they reflect upon their memories of the city and their hopes for the future. Leading the production team is veteran producer and documentary filmmaker Juanita Anderson, Media Arts and Studies lecturer and Director of Film and Digital Initiatives for the Department of Communication at Wayne State University.

Though “Shine a Light” is in its beginning stages, Dash and Anderson have already begun capturing footage as a part of their Detroit Elders Project. A firm timeline has not been established, but project members point to the next DLECTRICITY Exhibition of Art & Light, scheduled for October 2014, as a potential opportunity to unveil one or more of the completed installations.

About The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is the world's largest institution dedicated to the African American experience. For more information please visit TheWright.org.

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President's Message, September 2013

Posted by Juanita Moore
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As the summer sun sets and we enter September, we are filled with wonderful memories from the past few months. These include thrilling performances at July's Concert of Colors, Complex Movements' riveting Beware of the Dandelions immersive art installation, celebrations honoring the 95th birthday of Nelson Mandela and career of Ingrid Saunders Jones, and a pair of extraordinary opening events whose vibrance and diversity perfectly complimented the Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints: Popular Art of the Northeast of Brazil exhibition.

To top it all off was the 31st African World Festival - we could not have asked for better weather, and the sunny skies and comfortable clime made last year's homecoming come to fruition as tens of thousands of visitors made their way through the museum, rivaling our busiest days of Black History Month all weekend long. All told, close to 140 vendors and upwards of 150,000 attendees made this year's festival the best yet. A big, 150,000-person strong hug goes out to festival director Njia Kai, who once again took on a seemingly insurmountable challenge in making this year's festival a reality, and not only made it happen, but made it magical! The Wright Museum salutes her dedication, which goes far beyond African World Festival in having a profound impact on many of the city's cultural activities, and which was rightfully recognized in this glowing article by Cassandra Spratling in the Detroit Free Press.

We are also so appreciative of and grateful for our neighbors in the surrounding community. It is not easy to host a three-day festival in your backyard, and those living around the museum are true partners in helping to sustain this Detroit tradition. Finally, to our tireless volunteers, whether on fundraising or planning committees, or on their feet throughout our programs and events, you help us do what we do - and we could not do it without you!

The momentum continues this month with an appearance by ABC's Extreme Weight Loss star Trina Miller at the kick off to season 4 of 30 Days To Lose It!, and our ever-popular Grandparents Day celebration. Before the tragedy of Trayvon Martin was the murder of Emmett Till, and the link between these events will be explored at the season premier of the Liberation Film Series. And the 2013 Wright Gala Annual Benefit rounds out the month, which will be a Brazilian experience unlike any other.

Simply put, there's no reason the memories should end with summer!

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ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss Star to Kick Off Season 4 of 30 Days To Lose It!

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Oakwood nurse Trina Miller, whose year-long quest to transform her life was featured this summer on the hit ABC television show, Extreme Weight Loss, will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming season kick-off of the women’s health and fitness program 30 Days To Lose It!, taking place Tuesday, September 3 at 6 pm at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Midtown Detroit.

Miller, a 47-year-old wife and mother of three, will share her battles and ultimate success in losing 145 pounds before a national television audience. Miller was selected from thousands of applicants around the country to be a part of Season 3 of Extreme Weight Loss after an open casting call in Detroit in February 2012. Nearly 300 pounds at the time, she found out shortly after that six fellow Oakwood Healthcare nurses, also struggling with their weight, would join her to form “Team Trina.” With lots of exercise, nutritional improvements, self-motivation and team support, the women collectively lost more than 500 pounds.

30 Days To Lose It! launched at The Wright Museum in March 2010 as a one-month initiative for Women’s History Month but quickly expanded into a year-long campaign. The weekly workouts that are at the program’s core, held every Tuesday at the museum from September through June, are free for museum members and $5 for non-members per session. Non-members who attend 8 consecutive sessions receive a complimentary museum membership, making their next 12 months free. Sponsors of 30 Days To Lose It! include St. John Providence Health System and Beaumont.

In addition to Miller and others from “Team Trina,” the Season 4 kickoff event on September 3rd will also feature healthy refreshments courtesy of Beans & Cornbread restaurant in Southfield, free health screenings by the Henry Ford Health System, and prizes from Weight Watchers and Detroit’s new Whole Foods Market to those who bring the most guests to work out. Plus, Carla Triplett, a former contestant on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, will make a special appearance. The evening will conclude with a one-hour workout conducted by former Miss USA, Carole Gist Stramler, so attendees are encouraged to bring bottled water and an exercise mat, and come dressed for exercising.

Before beginning any exercise program, an individual should first consult with a physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 30 Days To Lose It! attendees should enter the museum through its rear entrance off of Farnsworth. Parking is free on Brush Street, and available in the Cultural Center parking lot behind the museum for $5 before 4 pm and $3 afterwards. Metered parking on Warren and Farnsworth is enforced until 10 pm Monday through Saturday. For more information, please email 30 Days To Lose It! program coordinator Angela King at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is the world's largest institution dedicated to the African American experience. For more information visit www.TheWright.org.

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Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints Opens National Tour at The Wright Museum with Free Public Reception

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The first major U.S. traveling exhibition of popular art from the Northeast of Brazil will open its U.S. tour at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Detroit, with a free public reception on August 15, 2013, from 6 pm – 9 pm. 

Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints – Popular Art of the Northeast of Brazil presents popular art (the art of ordinary people) from Brazil’s northeast to tell the story of how African, European, and indigenous cultural traditions have interacted over a period of more than 500 years to form this distinctive regional culture in Brazil. Beginning with a Portuguese colonial settlement in the early-1500s, nearly a century before the first permanent British settlement at Jamestown, the exhibition brings to life the people, the captivating history, and the culture of the largest country in South America. 

Through nearly 200 works of art, visitors will learn about slavery in Brazil, the plantation economy, popular heroes and heroic acts of resistance in the face of adversity, and the raucous escapades of legendary outlaws and bandits of Brazil’s “Wild West” – a history that inspires us to think of parallels to our own in the United States. Visitors will also encounter the widely practiced spiritual traditions that give meaning and cohesiveness to people’s lives in Brazil’s Northeast. Woodblock prints and carved wood figures of Catholic saints and forged iron symbols of African deities – called orixás – introduce popular Catholicism and the ecstatic African-Brazilian religion called Candomblé. In the exhibition, life-size mannequins of the orixás wearing the colorful ceremonial vestments of Candomblé seem to dance in front of video footage of a Candomblé ceremony actually filmed in Bahia. 

Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints has been organized by Con/Vida – Popular Arts of the Americas, in partnership with The Wright Museum.  Exhibition curators Marion (Mame) Jackson, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Art History, Wayne State University; and Barbara Cervenka, O.P., Professor Emerita of Art, Siena Heights University, have traveled extensively in Brazil’s Northeast during the past 20 years. They have worked directly with popular artists and scholars in this poorest region of Brazil to organize this exhibition. 

“While the Northeast is materially poor compared to Rio and São Paulo and the cities of the South of Brazil,” observes Cervenka, “the culture is vibrant and rich and filled with good humor. The Northeast is considered the historic and cultural ‘heart’ of Brazil.”

The strong African presence in the Northeast of Brazil can be felt throughout the exhibit, especially in the percussive rhythms of its music. “Sound tracks and amazing video clips accompany the art and will linger in the minds and imaginations of visitors long after they leave” says Jackson. “All cities have their rhythms - but not all cities have such dramatic and percussive rhythms as Salvador and Detroit.”

Bandits & Heroes includes nearly 200 works of art by more than 50 artists who draw inspiration from their local culture and make a living through their art. In addition, two eminent Brazilian photographers – Adenor Gondim and Antônio Neto – have collaborated on this exhibition, providing unusual photos and video footage showing the lively festivals, ceremonies, and pilgrimages that shape life in the Northeast.

“That’s my cousin… that’s my aunt,” exclaimed Juanita Moore, President & CEO of The Wright Museum, upon viewing one of the exhibition’s videos celebrating the diversity of Brazil’s Northeast in the faces of its people. “This is a very important exhibition,” said Moore. “We are proud to collaborate with Con/Vida and inaugurate its national tour at The Wright Museum.”

Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints – Popular Art of the Northeast of Brazil opens at The Wright Museum with a free public reception on August 15, 2013 from 6 pm – 9 pm, which will also feature demonstrations of the folkloric Brazilian art of Capoeira Angola of Bahia by TABCAT Detroit. This event is free and open to the public.

The Wright Museum, located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am until 5 pm, and on Sundays from 1 until 5 pm. Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints will be on display through January 5, 2014, and during normal museum hours is free with museum admission, which is $8 for adults (ages 13-61), and $5 for seniors (62+) and youth (3-12). Admission is free for museum members and children under 3. After January 5, 2014, the exhibit is scheduled to travel to the DuSable Museum, Chicago, Illinois; the Robert W. Woodruff Library at the Atlanta University Center, Atlanta, Georgia; and the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina.

Funding for Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints has been provided by the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities and the Michigan Humanities Council, with additional support from Wayne State University, TechTown, and the Adrian Dominican sisters.

Con/Vida – Popular Arts of the Americas
Established in 2000 by university professors Marion (Mame) Jackson, Wayne State University, and Barbara Cervenka, Siena Heights University, Con/Vida is a non-profit organization located in Detroit’s TechTown and is dedicated to fostering understanding for the diverse cultures of the Americas through exhibitions and programs featuring the arts of ordinary people, showcasing particularly the cultures of Brazil and Peru.  Cervenka and Jackson have circulated traveling exhibitions to more than 50 museums and cultural centers in the U.S. and Canada in the last 20 years; these exhibitions have been viewed by approximately 500,000 people. For more information visit www.convida.org

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is the world's largest institution dedicated to the African American experience. The Wright Museum provides learning opportunities, exhibitions, programs and events based on collections and research that explore the diverse history and culture of African Americans and their African origins.
For more information visit: www.TheWright.org

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President's Message, July 2013

Posted by Juanita Moore
Juanita Moore
Juanita Moore, President & CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African Americ
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Brazil... the name alone conjures images of the Amazon rain forest, Corcovado towering over Rio de Janeiro, and Carnival. But our preconceptions don't do justice to this immense country, which is the fifth largest in the world, both in terms of geographical area and by population.

Which brings us to our newest exhibition. Opening its U.S. tour on August 15, 2013, the evening before African World Festival, is Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints: Popular Art of the Northeast of Brazil. We at The Wright are thrilled to partner with Con/Vida – Popular Arts of the Americas, the organizer of this exhibit. Through nearly 200 works of art, visitors will learn about slavery in Brazil, the plantation economy, popular heroes and heroic acts of resistance in the face of adversity, and the raucous escapades of legendary outlaws and bandits of Brazil’s “Wild West” - a history that inspires us to think of parallels to our own in the United States.

As the singer, songwriter, and activist Caetano Veloso, a native of the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia, wrote in his 2002 memoir, Tropical truth: a story of music and revolution in Brazil:

"The parallel with the United States is inevitable. If all the countries in the world today must measure themselves against 'America,' position themselves in relation to the American Empire, and if the other countries in America have to do so in an even more direct way - comparing their respective histories to that of their stronger and more fortunate brother - Brazil's case is even more acute, since the mirror image is more evident and the alienation more radical. Brazil is America's other giant, the other melting pot of races and cultures, the other promised land to European and Asian immigrants, the Other. The double, the shadow, the negative image of the great adventure of the New World. The sobriquet ‘sleeping giant,’ which was applied to the United States by Admiral Yamamoto, will be taken by any Brazilian as a reference to Brazil..."

The parallels don't end there. When one thinks of the enormous cultural and societal impact that 500,000 enslaved Africans have had on the evolution of the United States of America, just imagine an influx of 5,000,000 – the number of enslaved Africans brought to Brazil during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. A recent headline in the Guardian declared, "Brazil comes to terms with its slave trading past." It was the last country in the Western hemisphere to abolish slavery, on May 13, 1888. Brazil's last census, in 2011, showed that brancos (whites) accounted for less than half the population for the first time since the 19th century.

This “sleeping giant” is waking up; the Brazilian economy is the world's sixth largest, and one of its fastest growing major economies. The eyes of the world will be on Brazil as it hosts two of the most prestigious international athletic events - the World Cup in 2014, and the Summer Olympics in 2016.

"From the depths of the dark solar heart of the southern hemisphere," we can learn much about this parallel society, with its rich amalgamation of humanity, a cultural stew that has created its own sophisticated artistic traditions, rhythms and history. How will you explore Brazil? We hope you'll join us to find out, because it will be a fascinating journey. Um beijo!

Q3 Member Newsletter 2013-cover-small

Click here to download our July 2013 Member Newsletter

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