September 26th, 2018
“I love my museum. I’ll be damned before I let you take it away.” That sentence summed up the determination of the nearly two hundred people who gathered at Sacred Heart on September 19 to organize to protect the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. People want to be sure it remains a place that reflects the heart of the African American community.
Recently, the Board of Directors dismissed Ms. Juanita Moore, a popular and sensitive leader who is widely credited with creating a solid direction for the Museum. Under her leadership the museum has become a vital community resource. As people affirmed on Wednesday evening, it is a place of memory and memorial, a place of therapy and healing, and a space where we come together as a community. The removal of Ms. Moore was followed by an effort to cancel the popular African World Festival. Then there was an announcement that an exhibit reflecting the life of Thomas Jefferson would be opened during African American History month.
These choices, in a time when so much of our community is under vicious assault, signaled a shift away from being a place that reflects our legacy as a community that stands for values of respect for the lives and well being of people and toward placating corporate interests. Thus people gathered out of “love, concern, and respect.” As the organizers said opening the meeting, “This is something we have got to do. We must assert our power and control.”
The leadership of the gathering, including Dr. Gloria House and JoAnn Watson, reported on a meeting with the current Board of Directors, where they presented over 17,000 signatures on a petition that stated: The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History was founded to serve as a repository and representation of African American culture to affirm our people’s strivings and achievements over several centuries. Our intention is to safeguard the vision of this treasured public institution for its continued service to the Detroit Black community.
A broad-based coalition of well-respected Detroit organizations hereby express concern for the future direction of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History following the abrupt departure of beloved CEO Juanita Moore. We, the community groups and individuals who cherish the Museum for its dedication to serving our cultural and educational interests and aspirations, demand for representation on the governing board and in the search for the CEO successor.
The committee presented the board with 5 demands:
The name of the museum should be legally changed to Charles H. Wright Musuem of African American History.
10 community people should be added to the board of directors. These are people selected by the community, not the board.
4 community members should be on the search committee for the new CEO.
The Thomas Jefferson exhibit should be cancelled.
A bronze plate should be put in the floor of the rotunda honoring Dr. Charles H. Wright.
The committee reported board membership required a $10,000 donation to the museum. In response, organizers proposed a criteria to the public gathering. They proposed we select people to represent the community who have 10 years or more in ongoing engagement in struggles to advance and protect the rights of African Americans; demonstrated leadership and trust in African American interests, a readiness to collaborate with others, and commitment to generating resources to maintain and advance the community. In open elections people were selected for board membership and the selection committee.
This effort to protect the soul of the Charles H. Wright Museum is already making clear that Detroiters offer a vision of a much better future than that found in corporate dominated board rooms.
Science Gallery Lab Detroit seeks interactive, participatory works for DEPTH, a free exhibition that explores the power and complexities of water and its many roles in the physical and social world.
Water is life. Its presence affects all living things. From creation stories about life on Earth, to the looming devastating effects of pollution and climate change, water has the power to spread life and rejuvenation as well as death and destruction.
Who has access to water? Who decides? These issues raise questions about water as a human right. About our responsibilities to water as a resource and our responsibilities to each other.
This exhibition examines water’s polarizing extremes. From discoveries of water on Mars and hydroelectric power, to issues of water quality and access, to the complexities of water systems at the microscopic and macroscopic scales, our futures are directly linked to the future of water. What will that future be?
What We’re Reading
We Are Not the Resitance
In the summer of 2018, nearly two dozen members of the Poor People’s Campaign in Michigan, mostly faith leaders, were arrested for blocking the Q-Line and the entrance to Quicken Loans demanding “no business as usual” while Detroit families are deprived of water and having their homes taken in foreclosure