The Wright Museum wrapped up an incredibly busy first three months of 2013, celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Black History Month, and Women’s History Month (see our event pictures inside… perhaps you’re in one!). In addition to the plethora of historically important individuals and events included in these months, it’s significant to note the confluence of several major anniversaries and events taking place this very year: the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the second inauguration of the nation’s first African American president, Barack Obama, and the commemoration of Rosa Parks’ 100th birthday.
We were honored to host an enormously well received reception at the museum on February 4 for the new, commemorative stamp in honor of Rosa Parks’ 100th birthday. And thanks to Elaine Steele, I was able to attend the historical unveiling of the Rosa Parks statue in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. The unveiling revealed a 9-foot-tall, 2,700-pound bronze statue with a granite base showing Mrs. Parks sitting, her legs crossed, her hands folded, a purse dangling from her fingers, and with a look of quiet determination behind her glasses.
The ceremony fittingly brought together President Obama and both Democratic and Republican congressional leaders to honor the legacy of Mrs. Parks. It was beautiful and moving for all in attendance, but particularly so for the rather large Detroit contingent present. Rosa Parks, after her death in Detroit, was the first woman to lie in state in the Capitol. Now, the mother of the modern civil rights movement becomes the first African-American woman to receive a full-size statue in the Capitol collection.
As we look back on the events of these past three months, it is fitting that we remember Dr. Carter G. Woodson, known as the father of African American History. The lectures, the scholars, the exhibitions, the publications, the performances, the workshops, and the artists all fit in his vision of the importance of telling our story. He said, “If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” This son of former slaves, who attended Berea College in Kentucky, received a bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1912, Dr. Woodson understood the importance of teaching, learning and sharing history – and that the African American story was a part of a much larger narrative.
So, as Carter G. Woodson and Rosa Parks would have, we invite you to visit us, in-person, and even online on our website and Facebook page, which recently added its 21,000th fan. It’s where visitors enjoy daily Black history facts, photos, and most recently, live video streams of museum events (videos of several recent events can be found in our website’s event archives). As we like to say, history lives year-round at The Wright Museum - come share it with us!
Samuel A. Hodge
Samuel Hodge, the artist and creator of the Stories in Stained Glass series ensconced in the corridor encircling the Ford Freedom Rotunda, died on January 11, and was interned in his adopted home of Spartanburg, South Carolina, on January 19. He was a sociologist, educator, funeral director, and self-trained artist whose great love and appreciation for the museum was well known. His works can be found in many private collections, in Detroit, and around the country. We are saddened by his passing, but also grateful and honored that his works, whose vivid shapes and luminous colors illuminate important facets of the African American experience, live at The Wright Museum. We will miss him.
Click here to download our April 2013 Member Newsletter