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NORTH BRENTWOOD — County resident Lewis Robinson came to the Prince George’s African American Museum and Culture Center (PGAAMCC) for the first time a year ago. Back then he was impressed by the history presented in the museum during his second time attending the museum he learned even more.
One of the things he enjoyed the most about being in the museum was reading about the past Prince George’s County residents that built the county and made it what it is today.
He said it’s good that we don’t forget those people who were influential to our county and that’s what made him come back, to support the museum’s mission to preserve history.
“We need to keep that legacy alive,” Robinson said. “When I read the history of the Prince George’s County residents that built this county, I wanted to preserve that.”
In continuing their mission to preserve history, introduce goals for expanding the museum and bring together the community, the PGAAMCC held their annual holiday party on Dec. 6.
“We are gearing up for our 10-year celebration which is going to be in 2020, so right now we are focusing on more community development and making sure everyone has a cohesive understanding of the mission of the museum and what our vision is moving forward,” said Marketing Coordinator Tomora Wright.
“We definitely want to shift more into a community center and getting people to access to resources (and the) that we provide.”
The PGAAMCC has been holding the holiday party for nearly ten years with a theme that is either family oriented or mission-oriented each year.
Most holiday parties are just for museum members, but this year they opened it up to the general public to give everyone a feel for what the museum is really about and what they will be doing in the future.
They also introduced Monica Montgomery who comes in as the executive director following Interim Executive Director Malik Glee.
Returning to the area from New York, Montgomery has worked in museums in various capacities helping to make them accountable public servants and engaged with the community, particularly the African American community.
Her long-term goal is to make the PCAAMCC a home for black excellence and a staple in Prince George’s County. During the party, she shared with the public her eight-point vision for the museum that centers on learning, creating and connecting.
The eight-point vision that will kick off in February includes antique events where people can share artifacts around black history, creating a space for education such as genealogy and social justice, pop-up exhibits around the county, an in-house library that will include events like a Martin Luther King Jr. Day book donation drive, partnering with various organizations to hold events and more.
“I’m hoping that people see us as a hub,” Montgomery said. “A museum is a home for the people, and we are a home for black excellence.
“I hope that people feel at home here; that they will rediscover what we offer and what they can offer and how we can build together. I hope museum-going culture at large will increase and, especially in this region, realizing that there is more to see and to do here than go to the National Mall.”
The holiday party kicked off the new vision for the museum with food, gifts and creative and educational performances throughout the night.
Jessica Hebron, otherwise known as Culture Queen, gave a musical performance to teach the public about what Kwanzaa is and the importance of the holiday started in 1966 by Baltimore native Dr. Maulana Karenga. Her presentation included a traditional Kwanzaa table and artifacts from her family’s own Kwanzaa traditions.
“It’s very important to learn culture at a very young age,” she said. “What I would like to see is 20 years from now, children know their black history of Prince George’s County black history because it’s so rich.
“The thing that I love about this museum is that we don’t just stay in the museum. We have programs all over, in libraries and in schools, so I’d like to see more of that and get to the point where children know their history and can recite it.”
In addition to Culture Queen’s performance, singer Tamara Jade, a county native and full-time singer in New York City, gave her own rendition of a few Christmas songs such as “Someday At Christmas” and “O Holy Night.”
Author Theresa Gibson read an excerpt from her new book “Thorns of a Rose,” the story of her life as a foster child and the impact on her life as a woman struggling through issues of abandonment, lack of self-worth and depression.
Finally, local poets Patrick Washington and Prince George’s County Youth Poet Laureate Michaela Lacy recited a few of their original poems.