RALEIGH, North Carolina (WTVD) --Hundreds of people filled the North Carolina Museum of History's halls and atrium for a day of music, crafts, spoken word performances and more during the 16th annual program celebrating the start of Black History Month.
"And we all know that African-American culture has always and will always affect people of all different ethnic backgrounds," said Michelle Lanier, director of the state's African-American Heritage Commission. "So all are welcome! We're lifting to the light some of these stories of our state's black experience. From the arts to history to entrepreneurship."
There were performances and reenactments honoring Thomas Day, a freed man of color. While other African-Americans endured slavery in America, Day created furniture that helped create a demand for wood items made in North Carolina.
Museum visitors also had the opportunity to talk with a man who is a direct link to the movement to educate black North Carolinians after Emancipation. Bishop Frank McDuffie, head of the Laurinburg Institute, which is still operating today after opening its doors more than a century ago.
"1904, founded by my grandmother and grandfather, Tiny and Emanuel McDuffie from Snow Hill, Alabama" he proudly told ABC11, "sent by Booker T. Washington."
It is an opportunity to spend some time examining artifacts and photographs related to America's civil rights story at a time when tickets to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, DC are very hard to get.
"That's true," said Erica Felton after traveling from Clayton to Raleigh for Saturday's celebration. "But I still want to go to DC to see that! "
Here at home, organizers say don't worry if you missed the Saturday opener.
"Put it on your calendar. The last Saturday of January every year, we come together to kick off Black History Month," Lanier said.
You can see many of the exhibits described here inside the North Carolina Museum of History through the end of February.
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