Charles H. Wright was an obstetrician and gynecologist physician who founded the International Afro-American Museum right out of his home office on West Grand Blvd in 1965, Detroit. The inspiration to create a museum for black people came after visiting a World War II Memorial for service members in Denmark. Dr. Wright wanted black people to remember their history and remember those who came before and fought for us. Here's a fun fact, Hitsville U.S.A. was also located on West Grand Blvd. So there was an abundance of talent located on this street in the 1960's.
In 1987, the museum found a new home in a 28,000 square foot building after a partnership with the city of Detroit, and the name was changed to The Museum of African American History. Just ten years later, the museum yet again found a new home with a 125,000 square foot building and the name was finally changed to The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History shortly after it opened. It's interesting to note, that in 1990, Dr. Wright resigned from the museum that he originally birthed, citing differences with the city.
I had the opportunity to visit The Wright while being in Michigan for work. The outside and inside architectural design of the building looks great, and the inside of the Museum felt very spacious. The museum holds several exhibits where each has a different theme. Some exhibits are temporary while others are permanent. I only had the opportunity to go through two of the exhibits (And Still We Rise and Derrick Adams: Sanctuary), but I definitely plan to go back the next time I visit Detroit.
Derrick Adams: Sanctuary was one of their temporary exhibits. Google's definition of sanctuary is a place of refuge or safety. The theme of this exhibit was how black people had to travel and get around in the U.S. after slavery ended and prior to integration, during the Jim Crow era. The museum's crown and jewel is the And still We Rise exhibit. This exhibit takes you on an extensive journey of black history from the first humans all they way up through when Barack Obama became the 44th president of the U.S.. This exhibit could literally take a few hours to go through.
The Wright was truly a great museum to visit. It was once the largest black museum in the world, until the National Museum of African American History Culture opened in D.C.. The Wright museum was what I was hoping to see from the African American Research Library & Cultural Center in Sistrunk. Places like The Wright and Hitsville U.S.A. are very important to have especially in cities like Detroit where almost 80% of the population is black. Places like these help show some of the amazing things that black people have done. Detroit has a rich black history, that everyone should know about, and places like these help to make sure our history isn't forgotten.