It’s Time to Visit the African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County


“The Pain of Music” by Payton Williams

Zack Hildebrandt, Staff Writer

The African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County is exhibiting work by River Rats.  Expressions of Untold Stories, was put together by Huron High School’s tenth grade African American Humanities Accelerated Class (AC) as a collection of artwork reflecting their interpretation of August Wilson’s Piano Lesson and the African American Experience during the early twentieth century. Along with the 10th graders, social science teacher Anthony Stewart put together this exhibit.

“The students in African American Humanities had lessons on the Great Migration, The Harlem Renaissance, and Social Justice,” social science teacher Anthony Stewart said. “It was an integration with a book they were reading in English called ‘Piano Lesson’. They had to demonstrate their understanding of the topics using art as the genre. Their art pieces were then exhibited at the African American Cultural Historical Museum of Washtenaw County during the summer. Their work was alongside Jon Oye Lockard, a national artist who supported young art.”

The African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County is located on 1528 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, near Argo park and is open at 12 noon-4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. It was founded in 1993 as a museum without walls, but is open to the public since 2021. 

“It’s a great resource in their community and that it showcases local people as a valued part of the community,” Stewart said.

Ann Arbor has almost 122,000 people in it and 7% of Ann Arbor is Black. Ypsilanti has about 20,000 people in it and it is 25% Black. Two of the board directors of this museum are Huron teachers including social science teacher Kenyatta Tucker, who has been involved since 2020, a year before its opening to the public, and Stewart, who is an assistant treasurer. 

“While it may seem like our population numbers are low, we have been here for a while,” Tucker said. “And if you look at the impact or our cultural influence on Washtenaw’s social culture and diversity, the political and economic breakthroughs in many ways made it possible for other cultures to join Washtenaw County.”

According to Tucker, the AACHM has a multifaceted way of operating, unlike any other museum. 

“The museum is open during the week to see special painting exhibits,” Tucker said. “It also does tours around Washtenaw that spotlights various periods of African American History.  Some of those periods include the Civil War, Reconstruction, Immigration to the North, Segregation, WWI, WWII, The Civil Rights Era, The Black Power Era, and Black Washtenaw Today. Also, we partner with other organizations in the community. It gives us a chance to exemplify the African proverb that says ‘I am because WE are’  because,  the museum is a part of the community, and the community is a part of the museum.”  

In addition to Expressions of Untold Stories, the exhibits they also have are the Great Migration (which is open until March 23),  Sankofa: The Art and Legacy of Jon Onye Lockard, Where Art Meets History, an exhibit about architect Hilyard Robinson, and an exhibit about football player George H Jewlett Jr.