History Makers: The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia

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RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — After a 40-plus-year run, the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia is being recognized as a ‘History Maker’ honoree of the Valentine Museum in Richmond.

Located in what-looks-like a castle, the Museum’s current home (once on Clay Street, after it was founded) is the site of the former Leigh Street Armory in Richmond.

“We feel like we’re the best-kept secret in town, and we certainly don’t want to be,” Museum Executive Director Adele Johnson said.

“I think that we do a great job in telling the stories of others, of telling the stories of African Americans who have made contributions. but now as a history maker we get to tell our own story, and i think the impact that we are making in the community is well worth talking about.”

Adele Johnson, Executive Director of the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia

While many school-age children did not have the opportunity to learn about the lives of black Americans in detail, the history museum goes a step further, chronicling the lives of Richmonders and other Virginians.

Johnson told 8News “we preserve stories that inspire, so we tell the untold stories, the under told stories the forgotten stories of African Americans that have made great contributions.”

The 122 W. Leigh Street museum includes space for speaking engagements, interactive technology and artifacts.

On the second floor, one exhibit displays items that belonged to people enslaved by Thomas Jefferson at his Monticello home, and the first floor includes a 13-foot-tall status of famed tennis star Arthur Ashe.

“And of course he was a civil rights leader. So, there’s so much more to the story than sports, and that is the case with so many of our African American heroes that we talk about here at the museum.”

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