The Rapidian

GRAAMA to sponsor Ali exhibit, local oral histories for Black History Month

The recently opened Grand Rapids African-American Museum and Archives (GRAAMA) is hitting its stride in providing insight into local culture as the nation celebrates Black History Month.
George Bayard III, Executive Director of Grand Rapids African-American Museum and Archives

George Bayard III, Executive Director of Grand Rapids African-American Museum and Archives /Amy Carpenter-Leugs

There’s a new option for West Michigan residents who want to immerse themselves in local history and culture this February. The recently opened Grand Rapids African-American Museum and Archives (GRAAMA) is hitting its stride in providing insight into local culture as the nation celebrates Black History Month.

Executive Director George Bayard III and the GRAAMA board have developed several partnerships with other local organizations. GRAAMA will be working with the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) and the Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL), as well as Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. to present a multi-faceted look at African-American history and culture in the West Michigan area.

Events and exhibits over the month of February include:

  • Feb. 1 - 4: Lift Every Voice: A Place for All People. Poster exhibit from Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. At GRAAMA, 12 to 5 p.m., Tues. through Sat.
  • Feb. 1 - 28: Contribute to a Walking Tour. Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. will develop a self-guided walking tour of local African-American history. You can contribute photos and stories at the survey or by contacting LaTarro Traylor at (616) 719-4610 or [email protected]. Residents can also stop in at GRAAMA, 12 to 5 p.m., Tues. through Sat.
  • Feb. 4: Kwanzaa Reboot. A continuation of the Kwanzaa conversation from late December, centering concerns of the local African-American community. At GRAAMA, 10 a.m.
  • Feb. 5 - April 30: Oral Histories at the Finders Keepers exhibit. These histories have been collected and archived by GRAAMA. Local residents speak on issues from race to gumbo. At Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) during their regular hours.
  • Feb. 9:  Muhammad Ali exhibit.  An ice sculpture and pop-up photo exhibit featuring the legendary boxer and his life in Michigan. At GRAAMA, 12 to 5 p.m., Tues. through Sat.
  • Feb. 11: What’s Your History Worth? Many area residents have collectibles - dolls, books, art, and more - tucked away in a closet or attic. Bayard will use items from the GRAAMA collection to advise and inform would-be collectors. At GRAAMA, 10 a.m.
  • Feb. 16 - Feb. 28: Local Icons.  African-American artists featured at Grand Rapids Public Main Library during their regular hours and on Taste of Soul Sunday on Feb. 19. At GRPL during regular hours.
  • Feb. 17: Breakfast for Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses (GRABB). Chalk Talk and Development series offering networking and inspiration for local innovators. At GRAAMA, 8 to 9:30 a.m.
  • Feb. 24: African American Art and Music Celebration and Fundraiser. Residents can enjoy art, music, and food while supporting the museum.  At GRAAMA, 6 p.m.
  • Feb. 25: Retracing your Roots. An elementary genealogy class for people who want to learn about their family history. At GRAAMA, 10 a.m.

​GRAAMA’s offerings may have particular relevance into today’s divided political climate. “GRAAMA is a place for all people,” is the theme of the poster event on Feb. 1. In a previous article, Bayard shared, "We’re highlighting the similarities [between people] because we’re telling individual stories. The basis of our museum will be oral histories: one person telling one story. The stories of people who migrated from Mississippi to Grand Rapids in the 1930s are not that dissimilar from those of people who came from Germany or Poland.”

More information can be found at the GRAAMA Facebook page.

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.

Browse