Friday, May 17, 2013

Harrison Museum of African American Culture ribbon cutting PHOTOS

Roanoke NAACP President Brenda Hale explains how slaves were chained 4 to a rack in the slave ship.

Roanoke NAACP President Brenda Hale explains how slaves were chained 4 to a rack in the slave ships.

Dignitaries and volunteers were among the 75  or so guests at the ribbon cutting Thursday for the 7000 square foot Harrison Museum of African American Culture now relocated to the Center in the Square. The Square will have its grand opening on Saturday May 18.

With scissors in hand Mayor David Bowers said “We have transitioned from those dark days of segregation to now a day in which we can celebrate diversity.”

Jim Sears, President at Center in the Square said the decision to relocate the Harrison Museum to the Square came down to foot traffic. “If only by accident that people wonder into the space here, you probably will be able to reach out to more people and tell the story – an incredible and important story about the Harrison Museum and the influence the African American population has had our culture in Roanoke and Western Virginia.”

Charles Price, Chairman of the Board of the Harrison Museum had total commitment to the project said Sears. He praised Roanoke City for its $2.5 million commitment to Center in the Square with about $500,000 going toward the Harrison Museum.

Ribbon Cutting

Ribbon Cutting

All was readied to cut the ribbon. Mayor Bowers under his expert supervision instructed that the doors be opened and everyone step inside the Museum as the ribbon was strung across the doorway. “I’ve done this before,” said Bowers laughing. It took at least two minutes to get everyone lined up and then on the count of three – snip “welcome to the Harrison Museum.”

Senator John Edwards said after WWII his father as Mayor  integrated the police department and libraries. “This is the history of our city, a city of progress, a city of diversity and the Harrison Museum of African American Culture is especially important to us.”

Price said to get to this point “it was because of all the volunteers. The Board here today had a great deal to do with that … it’s not a one person show.” He thanked the former Executive Director of the Taubman Museum, David Mickenberg for serving as a consultant.

Mickenberg said that inside this Museum “it is about community, it’s about bridge building and it’s about history and learning from those old histories. It’s about where history is going and about culture identity as in the sculpture by Diane Smith. It’s about the past, the present and the future.”

The museum’s roots stretch back to 1985 when the Northwest Neighborhood Improvement Council and Total Action Against Poverty was established. HMAAC was previously located at the Harrison School built in 1916. The School was completed in 1917 with Miss Lucy Addison serving as principal. It is listed on the National and Sate Registers of Historic Places.

Enjoy some of the photos here.  CLICK to enlarge them.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community, Education, Local Events

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