Remembering History: Maryland’s own African American museums

A large spotlight has been shining on the Smithsonian’s new, crowded and compelling national African American museum in Washington, but that doesn’t dim Maryland’s own repositories for black history.

Maryland has over a dozen African-American museums of its own, from the National Great Blacks in Wax museum in Baltimore, to the Harriet Tubman museum in Cambridge, to the Doleman Black Heritage museum in Hagerstown.

Although the smaller museums can be overshadowed by the new giant in the District of Columbia, their local significance is an important complement to the national story — but with much easier access.

At the Maryland museums, there are no lines and you don’t have to wait months to get in the doors.

The 2013 Annual Report from the Maryland Commission on African American history and culture says Maryland museum attendance was over 7,000 visitors. On the other hand, the National museum had 305,000 visitors for 2016 from opening day on Sept. 24 through the end of October.

To know the full story of the African-American experience, both a local and a national point of view are necessary, said Gwendolyn Briley-Strand, a Maryland actor who performs as Tubman.

“You don’t just read one book on a subject, you read many so you can’t just go to the National museum and expect to know the whole story. You have to go to the smaller Maryland museums as well,” Briley-Strand said.

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore tells stories of celebration, triumph, and perseverance through art. Through the end of next year, it features an exhibit called “Sons: Seeing the Modern African American Male” that displays hundreds of photos of fathers and sons.

“This is a very proud moment. My son is 14 years old and he’s an eighth-grader so he’s coming up through those formative… years trying to learn about who he is,” said Keiffer Mitchell Jr. — former Maryland state delegate and a current member of Gov. Larry Hogan’s cabinet — as he smiled at a picture of himself and his son.

The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum gives a glimpse of every era during the African-American experience dating back to Africa. The museum features wax figures of many individuals such as Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Tubman, and Frederick Douglass.

One exhibit from the outside looks like a ship, and when you walk downstairs you see how slaves looked, chained, on the vessel on their way to America.

The Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center takes you on a walk through the history of the county, from a World War II military jacket and hat to Arthur Ashe’s tennis racket.

Each Maryland museum has its own specialty and purpose.

“Museums are about the truth, that’s what we need,” said Briley-Strand.

Maryland has a rich African-American history, being the home to prominent figures such as Tubman, Douglass, Thurgood Marshall, and many more.

The state was home to the Underground Railroad that helped hundreds of slaves escape to freedom.

Maryland’s African-American museums provide an opportunity to share the history the state holds in the national story.

“For once, just feel what we feel, see what we see, and try to understand,” said Briley-Strand.

Elementary students keep their eye on the ball as they learn life lessons

Furman L. Templeton Elementary School has entered its second year with the Baltimore Tennis Patrons program. The kids are eager to learn and excited to have exposure to a sport that they don’t see often. Coach Damian Jones says it means the world to him to teach students the sport of a lifetime.

Local female football coach is breaking barriers

Coach Tobi Hudnall is breaking barriers in a male dominated sport. She says the journey wasn’t easy but it was worth the ride.

Maryland Republican Party Scores Wins/Losses In Election

The Maryland Republican headquarters hosted a watch party during election night. Republican Kathy Szeliga addressed the media after a long day of traveling and one Trump supporter has a special way to show his loyalty.

A Special Olympian strives for success even when the road gets tough

Ben Collins, a special olympic athlete has a heart of a champion. When adversity strikes his only option is to persevere. His coach Jim Downs says against all odds Ben is one the hardest working athletes in Maryland.

Blind residents speak up about challenges in Prince George’s County

The National Federation of the Blind’s National Harbor Chapter visit the Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker to discuss problems and possible solutions. One woman says there’s still life after vision loss.

Maryland basketball featured at Big Ten Media day

This year Big Ten Media Day was hosted right down the road in Washington. Maryland’s head coach Mark Turgeon and two players addressed the media about the upcoming season. Coach Turgeon says this isn’t a veteran team but they should still be able to compete in the Big Ten.

The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland takes a step to hear from the public

The Maryland Legislative Black Caucus hosted a public hearing to discuss the challenges facing African Americans. One advocate says he’s the voice for the voiceless.

NASA Administrator visits a Prince George’s County school

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr. visited John Hanson Montessori School in Prince George’s County Thursday. Education is the key to success, Bolden said.