Richmond’s Black History Museum celebrates 40-year anniversary

By Henry Graff

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia on West Leigh Street is marking 40 years of preserving stories that inspire.

“I don’t think folks realize as much, how a part the free Black experience was prior to the Civil War, how important that was to this state,” said Mary Lauderdale, BHM Director of Collections.

Lauderdale says to mark the occasion the museum is unveiling its “Forging Freedom, Justice and Equality” exhibit.

It explores vital themes of Black history in culture across the commonwealth, including commerce, arts and entertainment and education. And it tells the stories of Maggie Walker, Virginia Randolph and those who served in the military.

“We couldn’t tell every story but we can tell parts of different types of stories for African Americans, including how important it was before freedom came both the free black and enslaved black experience in Virginia,” said Lauderdale.

Lauderdale says there’s so much to tell and even more stories to share over the next 40 years.

The museum is located in the old Leigh Street Armory Building in Jackson Ward. The forging exhibit is up until the end of April.

The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

“Black history is America’s history is Virginia’s history. It’s not an isolated thing. It’s part of the fabric of what makes Virginia what it is and so this is a very important part of the story. That it’s under-told, not told, seldom told and folks come here to learn more,” said Lauderdale.

You can find more information about the exhibit and museum here.

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