Imagine: You have already spent almost an hour at the Museum
of African American History in Harlem. You are entering a
relatively small theater with 50 others visitors. All of a
sudden a holographic image of Frederick Douglass appears in
the semi-darkened room right before your very eyes.
Frederick welcomes everyone and then, in a booming
“Ozzie-Davis-like” voice, gives his famous July 5th
Speech. “Fellow citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why
am I called upon to speak here today? What have I, or those
I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the
great principles of political freedom and of natural
justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence,
extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring
our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess
the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings
resulting from your independence to us?...” Six to seven
minutes later Mr. Douglass is done with the speech and he
vanishes. There is a pregnant silence. Everyone is in awe
and almost overwhelmed. Speechless, you and everyone else
leave the room, walking into a special area where an actual
copy of the speech you just heard is exhibited in a well-lit
large case in the center of the room…one of the several
copies of the speech still in existence.
This is the kind of experience that people of all ages will
never, never forget. And this is the kind of heart-and-mind
connection that helps to make The African American History
Museum in Harlem an unforgettable experience for all,
transcending race, class, religion, politics, gender and
generation. The timeline of four centuries of African
American history will be something that will create the kind
of word-of-mouth buzz that will continue to grow as time
The African American History Museum will be a
highly-interactive, kids-of-all-ages-friendly place –
complete with interactive exhibits, holographic images of
historic figures, video games and more – designed to inform
the viewer about the past four centuries of African American
history as a timeline. “A place to which kids drag their
We will identify 16-20 of the premier documents/artifacts of
African American history and we will fabricate highly
technical, dramatic and experiential exhibits around those
specific pieces (1667 Manhattan Land Grant, etc.). If we
have 4 levels in the museum – one level per century of
history – we can create 4-5 of those experiential exhibits
on each level. The museum visitor is mentally, emotionally
and in some cases even physically engaged. This will give an
air of expectancy that keeps visitors on their toes…“Wow!
That was incredible! What’s around the next corner?!”
The African American History Museum will dip back in time
using the Rosetta Stone as the literal touchstone to ancient
times. In this manner, people will know that Black History
didn’t start with slavery. A special section of the museum
will be represented by artifacts and images of the ancient
African Kingdoms – Mali, Great Zimbabwe, Ghana, Ashanti,
Benin, etc. The ancient African aspect of the exhibit will
also be a tool for healing, mutual respect and cultural
understanding between Africans and African Americans.
The African American History Museum will be non-partisan and
a unifier of the races. A place for healing and honest,
thoughtful discourse. Not so much Afro-centric or
Euro-centric. Truth-centric. A special section of the museum
will be dedicated to the many Caucasians who sacrificed
their lives for the anti-slavery cause. Anyone visiting the
museum will be able to leave the museum visit without
feeling pounded by anger or guilt. We will be intentional
about welcoming Democrats, Republicans, Independents and
others to be a part of every aspect of the planning,
development and the enjoyment of the entire museum project.
The African American History Museum will also have a
Research Center boasting a large collection of vintage
newspapers clarifying African American history. These
newspapers tell the story in the words of the people who
experienced the history. The Research Center will host an
annual symposium, with students and scholars sharing the
forgotten historical people and events they have uncovered
over the previous year.
Another important aspect of The African American History
Museum is a special section dedicated to the “History of
Entrepreneurship of African Americans Over the Past Four
Centuries.” Madam C.J. Walker, Paul Cuffe and so many more.
This is an especially important exhibit. Success and growth
in spite of slavery, reconstruction, the Depression, Jim
Crow, etc. is a remarkable story all in itself. It’s like
grass growing through concrete. The context of this history
is what makes it so compelling.
The African American History Museum in Harlem will be the
hub of many educational and inspirational efforts,
collaborating with African American history museums around
the United States. Also, The African American History Museum
in Harlem will be a part of a global network of Black
History Galleries in major cities across the country and in
selected cities internationally.
The new Museum will also usher in a “Second Harlem
Renaissance,” where new writers, poets, playwrights,
musicians, artists, and sculptors alike can flourish
1. Will tears down barriers between Blacks and Whites, young and
old, the various political ideologies...
2. Will open and change hearts and minds...
3. Will surround Black people with their ancestors, giving a
sense of awe and wonderment for all...
4. Will cause people to think and want to learn more, leading to
continuing achievement, scholarship and education...
5. Will leave a legacy...