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President's Message, April 2012

Posted by Juanita Moore
Juanita Moore
Juanita Moore, President & CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African Americ
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on Sunday, 01 April 2012
in Today in Black History

With the month of April comes spring, and the season of spring, growth, so what better time to admire the tendrils of life bursting forth from earth and limb.  The same is true of our Museum; after the past three months of amazing exhibits and events, we can see the fruits of our labor all around us.  For instance, for the period of July 1, 2011 through February 29, 2012, the Museum’s admissions are up by almost 6,000 visitors and event attendance is up by over 2,000 attendees as compared to the same period the year prior.  Additionally, the Museum and its programming have been featured in over 60 news stories in little more than the first two months of 2012.  We’re excited by this growth, and thank each and every one of our members, volunteers and visitors who’ve helped make it possible.

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Friday Poetry History: A Poem by Arthur Pfister

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on Friday, 22 April 2011
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Our fourth entry for National Poetry Month from the legendary Broadside Press is a poem entitled, "Granny Blak Poet (In Pastel)" and is dedicated to Mrs. Margaret Danner. This poem was published in 1970 by Arthur Pfister. Unlike our previous entries, this poem does not have a striking watercolor color scheme or added graphics to illuminate the words; this broadside is brought to life by the words themselves. The way that the words are spaced and the paragraphs are structured is the artwork. Does the placement of the words mean anything for poem? How does it tie in to the subject matter? That is for the reader to decide, but this shows how the broadside was an amazing artistic medium for the conveyance of poetry. It could make the very words of the poetry visual and well as literal art. It was art of a different time embodying the spirit of creativity and risk. It was art that could only have been created with great ambition. That was Dudley Randall's vision; that was the Broadside Press.

Collection: Broadside Press Collection; year: Poem 1970. Photograph courtesy of the Collections and Exhibitions department of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (http://chwmuseum.org). Research, caption and scanning by Derek Thomas Sojda. For more information please contact the Louise Lovett Wright Library and Robert L. Hurst Research Center at (313) 494-5840 or via email at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  For this and other informative posts, please visit http://chwmuseum.org/explore/blog.

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Friday Poetry History: Olumo

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on Friday, 15 April 2011
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Our third entry for our series celebrating National Poetry Month is the the poem, "Pearl Bailey sings Tchaikovsky & Grieg in the key of ELLINGTON-STRAYHORN: mushrooms & nutcrackers" by OLUMO (Jim Cunningham). This poem, as the title implies, is a celebration of music. The broadside itself is the cool hue of blue that is accented by three notes and a treble clef. These subtle touches enhance the power of the poetry and make the broadside a unique way to read a poem. This poem is a lucid dream-like dance through the story of a woman and her day, from "she didn't stray too far from the morning's mood to climb a mountain" to, "she was tired of her high heel shoes and kicked them off quicker than an overture". This is a wonderful example of the craft that enhances the English language and reaffirms how beautiful it can be. If only everything we read could be put on a broadside!

Collection: Broadside Press Collection; year: Poem 1972. Photograph courtesy of the Collections and Exhibitions department of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (http://chwmuseum.org). Research, caption and scanning by Derek Thomas Sojda. For more information please contact the Louise Lovett Wright Library and Robert L. Hurst Research Center at (313) 494-5840 or via email at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  For this and other informative posts, please visit http://chwmuseum.org/explore/blog.

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Friday Poetry History: The Sea-Turtle and the Shark

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on Friday, 08 April 2011
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This week's photo blog is another entry from the Broadside Press publications. This poem, entitled "The Sea-Turtle and the Shark," was published in 1965 by M.B. Tolson and it was published as a broadside in 1966. As you can see, the poem has its own distinct style that fits the poem's title and subject matter. The beauty of the Broadside Press was taking this art of poetry and making it a visual piece of art as well.

Collection: Broadside Press Collection; year: Poem 1965, Broadside 1966. Photograph courtesy of the Collections and Exhibitions department of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (http://chwmuseum.org). Research, caption and scanning by Derek Thomas Sojda. For more information please contact the Louise Lovett Wright Library and Robert L. Hurst Research Center at (313) 494-5840 or via email at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  For this and other informative posts, please visit http://chwmuseum.org/explore/blog.

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Friday Poetry History: All I Gotta Do by Nikki Giovanni

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on Friday, 01 April 2011
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April is National Poetry Month, so instead of historical photographs, we will be featuring African-American poetry that was published by Detroit's own Broadside Press. The poems are each printed on colored paper, and each has a distinct look and style. Some of these poems have been autographed by the author. This week we will be featuring a poem from Nikki Giovanni.

Broadside Press was started by lifelong Detroiter and poet Dudley Randall in 1965. When he was 13 he had a poem published in the Detroit Free Press. Over the years he earned degrees from Wayne State University and the University of Michigan in English and Library Science, respectively. He would move away for some years, but he returned to Detroit in 1956 and worked at the Wayne County Federated Library System as head of the reference-inter loan department. His most well know poem, 'Ballad of Birmingham' was a response to the 1963 bombing of a Baptist church. He continued to publish poetry and collections of poetry throughout the 1960s and 70s. In 1981 he was named Poet Laureate of the City of Detroit by Mayor Coleman Young. He died in 2000.

For more information on Dudley Randall please visit http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/m_r/randall/life.htm.

Collection: Broadside Press Collection; year: 1970. Photograph courtesy of the Collections and Exhibitions department of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (http://chwmuseum.org). Research, caption and scanning by Derek Thomas Sojda.  For more information please contact the Louise Lovett Wright Library and Robert L. Hurst Research Center at (313) 494-5840 or via email at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  For this and other informative posts, please visit http://chwmuseum.org/explore/blog.

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President's Message, April 2011

Posted by Juanita Moore
Juanita Moore
Juanita Moore, President & CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African Americ
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on Thursday, 31 March 2011
in Today in Black History

Spring is the season of renewal, when the rhythms of the earth and sun create lengthening days and life responds by bursting forth from its winter hibernation. For the Charles H. Wright Museum, our yearly renewal begins with MLK Day, Black History and Women’s History Month exhibitions and events that propel us forward like shoots from the soil to even greater things to come. To everyone who visited and experienced the film series, concerts and performances over the past few months, thank you so very much, and we do hope you join us again soon!

Poetry & Spoken Word Month
April is Poetry and Spoken Word Month, and we’ll be celebrating African American contributions to the craft with a Bamboo Muse reading featuring artist Alonzo Davis and poetry inspired by his works, a Remembering Mahogany open mic poetry performance, and the GRIOT youth story slam. We’re also partnering with Detroit Public Television to present two fantastic, free film screenings, Freedom Riders and Bhutto. And for the sake of our community’s financial well-being, we’re continuing the Smart Money Management workshop series presented by the Urban Financial Services Coalition. These free events are aimed at fostering financial literacy for both adults and children.

Ford Freedom Award
If you had to select just one event that truly encapsulates the museum’s mission, you couldn’t go wrong with the Ford Freedom Award, an annual fundraiser made possible by the generous support of Ford Motor Company. Taking place Tuesday May 17, this year’s event focuses on the law and honors “Champions of Justice” Judge Constance Baker Motley and Judge Damon J. Keith. An essay contest has been completed for grades 4 - 8 that attracts schools from across the region, as will the Scholar’s Lecture by Judge Keith to be held during the day on May 17. That evening’s black-tie gala event will follow Judge Baker Motley’s name being enshrined in the Ford Freedom Rotunda’s Ring of Genealogy, and is an event that is truly not to be missed. History, education, entertainment and achievement - this event has it all!

Dance Theatre of Harlem
In addition to our newest exhibitions, The Heidelberg Project: Art in the Streets and The Chris Webber Collection: Exceptional People During Extraordinary Times, 1755 – Present, we are excited to be hosting Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of Firsts opening this June. This traveling exhibit is a project of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dance Theatre of Harlem and the California African American Museum, and will reflect on the more than 40 years of history of this ground- and stereotype-breaking company.

In reflecting on the daily life and work of the museum, we of course have the events we plan for. But there are also those moments of glorious improvisation, such as when the North Carolina Central University Choir, upon completion of its tour, broke into song on the rotunda floor, followed by an impromptu performance by one of their members on the cello. As the strains of the prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G major reverberated off the dome, all present felt the magic and magnificence of a bit of history being made, as it is each day, within this wonderful museum. Do come be a part of it.

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