WILBERFORCE, Ohio (WDTN) – Curators over at the Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center say everyone has a story to tell. But not everyone gets the chance to tell it.
Curators Rosa Rojas and Hadley Drodge say the museum is about giving people a chance to claim their stories and preserve their history.
“The museum is truly an American museum,” Drodge said. “We tell the stories that have traditionally passed over by more mainstream, typically white institutions.”
The museum is the country’s first national museum dedicated to African-American history. It has one of the largest collections in the county.
“We work very hard to make sure peoples voices are heard and that individual stories are told and that their legacies live on,” Rojas said. “When you really spend the time digging deep and delving into our archives and collection, they represent individuals who have really fought the fight.”
The museum has everything from modern art to war artifacts and features local history as well as national.
Museum officials say they want to give people a deeper understand and appreciation for a part of American history that’s not always at the forefront.
The museum tells the stories of war heroes who had to fight fascism abroad – and then racism, here at home.
It tells the stories of freed slaves who came to Ohio; And their ancestors who were bought in Africa and made the long journey across the Atlantic, in chains, for a life of slavery.
In the sprawling modern art gallery, black artists tell their stories on canvas.
“Of course black Americans have been telling their stories since the inception of this country,” Drodge said. “However, I think white Americans tend to normalize our experience, instead.”
Giving people a chance to learn more about this hidden history is a key part of what the museum does.
Yellow Spring’s Mills Lawn Elementary School teacher Vickie Hitchock organized a field trip for her fourth graders.
“It’s extremely important that they understand what African-Americans have contributed to in society and how important every person is, no matter who they are,” Hitchcock said.
Curators say African-American history is an integral part of American history.
“History that we have traditionally learned in school really doesn’t tell everybody’s story – and we make sure to provide that part,” Rojas said. “The stories that are missing.”
Drodge said giving people a chance to share African-American history, art, and culture is key.
“What we do and why we do it is to inform and to educate and to inspire,” Drodge said. “I get so excited when we have school groups come because that’s really who we’re trying to reach.”
The museum is celebrating its 30th anniversary, this year. It first opened its doors back in March 1988.