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Black History: Special Delivery!!

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July 30, 2015

Malcom X Quote

Black History:  Special Delivery!!

malcolm x quote

Albert Cleage: Founder The Shrine of The Black Madonna

Black History:  Special Delivery!!

Albert Cleage

Rev. Albert B. Cleage 1911-2000 (later changed his name to Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman) was a theologian, nationalist, civil rights leader and father. He was a major influence on Detroit politics and black nationalism. He established the Central United Church of Christ in Detroit in 1956.

Cleage had become disenchanted with the white hierarchy of his denomination. Though he had served in integrated church settings; it seemed disheartening to him because he felt that he continued to witness racism and unfair treatment.

In 1970, shortly after the unveiling of an 18-foot painting of a Black Madonna in his church, the name was changed to Shrine of the Black Madonna and the Pan African Orthodox Christian Church denomination was created. The church also maintained the Shrine of The Black Madonna Cultural Center.  It was a hub of progressive, African-centered, religious, cultural and political activity. He contended, that Christ and many of his disciples were African in origin and suggested that Europeans had captured and twisted Christianity to assist in their enslaving Africans. He argued strongly for African American control of their own fate.

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Albert Cleage in front of Shrine of The Black Madonna in Detroit

Cleage did not believe in integration for blacks. He felt that it was important for blacks to obtain and maintain an economic, political, and social environment independently. He founded the City-wide Citizens Action Committee to support black businesses. He also promoted the education of black children by black teachers.

In the 1970s, Cleage expanded the church to Atlanta and Houston. Cleage was also very active in politics. Though he ran for office several times, he never won. However, his candidacies and advocacy led to the creation of the Black Slate, an organization that was instrumental in electing Detroit’s first Black mayor, Coleman Young, as well as other political officials. Cleage was also very instrumental as part of the 1960’s Black Power Movement.  He authored 2 books, “The Black Messiah” and “Black Christian Nationalism.”

Growing up in Detroit, The Shrine Of The Black Madonna Cultural Center was an icon in Black community. But I was not fully aware of its origins or impact. I’m wondering if any of the Black Mail blog readers are familiar with Albert Cleage?

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Dr. Charles H. Wright: Physician With A Passion for African American History

 Black History: Special Delivery!!

dr charles h wright

Dr. Charles Howard Wright (1918 – 2002) was an African-American physician. He founded the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, MI. Wright practiced both general medicine as well as obstetrics and gynecology. Wright became motivated to preserve African American history after visiting a memorial to Danish World War II heroes in Denmark. Visiting this memorial, convinced him that African Americans needed a place and platform to preserve and teach about African American history, life and culture.

In 1965, in partnership with a racially diverse group of 33 individuals, Wright opened the International Afro-American Museum on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, MI (pictured above). The next year he also began a traveling exhibit of African History which toured the state in a converted mobile home.

original_museum_pic

In 1978, the City of Detroit agreed to lease space to Wright for land in the Midtown area of Detroit. Groundbreaking took place in 1985 and the museum was named the “Museum of African American History”. The museum was expanded in 1997 and in 1998 it was renamed, “The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History”. The museum is described as, “the world’s largest institution dedicated to the African American experience.” The museum is home to over 35,000 artifacts and archival materials.

Charles Wright Museum

Click here to visit the museum website.

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