African American Cultural Celebration fills NC Museum of History

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Now in its 18th year, the African American Cultural Celebration attracted the expected eager throng of supporters on Saturday, along with some of the thousands in Raleigh for the Women's March.

It filled the spacious lobby inside the state museum of history as Civil War era reenactors entered the building, accompanied by traditional drummers.

"This is one of our larger crowds, so we're really glad that Governor Cooper came out this morning to welcome the crowd," said Bettie Murchison of the Celebration Planning Committee.

"We've had just great participation from everyone."

"Diversity is our strength," said the governor during his welcome remarks. "And as I go across the country and the world, recruiting businesses to North Carolina, I brag about the fact that North Carolina has more four year HBCUs than any other state!"

Murchison said music is one of the main attractions people mention when asked what brings them to Edenton Street each year.

"My most challenging task is choosing which artist I'm going to listen to. In the background you can hear Mary Williams, who's one of the crowd favorites! She's an amazing soloist, and we have other talented people all day long," said Murchison.

People also learned more about a pending project involving African-Americans in North Carolina:The North Carolina Freedom Park, scheduled to open by 2020 in Raleigh.

Those plans, and the exhibits available year-round at the museum, are applauded by many of the people who brought children along for accessible history lesson with help from interactive displays.

Angel Jordan, accompanied by her child and other relatives, said, "We used to learn a lot about Black History growing up. There's not that much going on in the schools nowadays, and so it's very important!"

The museum has more exhibits of interest:

The North Carolina Roots of Artist Ernie Barnes, painter of "Sugar Shack," an illustration familiar to viewers of Good Times and fans of Marvin Gaye's "I Want You" album.

A new exhibit on Reconstruction called Freedom! A Promise Disrupted: North Carolina 1862-1901

A Green Book lobby case, related to the guide booklet African Americans relied on for safe travel through the American South during the Jim Crow era.

The North Carolina Museum of History at 5 South Edenton Street in Raleigh is open from 9 to 5 Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 on Sunday.

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