black people and money

The largest black history museum in the country is on the brink of financial disaster

The largest black history museum in the country is on the brink of financial disaster

April Taylor

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History was founded in 1965 and contains the largest permanent exhibition of African American culture in the world, owning more than 30,000 artifacts and archival materials. Some of the museum’s most noted treasures include the Blanche Coggin Underground Railroad Collection, the Harriet Tubman Museum Collection, a Coleman A. Young Collection, and the Sheffield Collection. The museum’s core exhibit is an interactive experience titled, “And Still We Rise: Our Journey Through African American History and Culture.”

The museum recently awarded the Annual Ford Freedom Award to Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of Medgar Evers. The Grio is reporting on what she had to say and also the financial state of the museum. Evers-Williams was honored for her work on civil rights in the 30 years since her husband’s assassination. She currently serves as the chariman of the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute and chairman emeritus of the NAACP. Evers-William believes the museum is a beacon of hope and information and feels that the museum is critical to the future of Detroit.

Juanita Moore, president and CEO of the Wright museum, reports that the 48 year old museum has lost more than $1.5 million in funding in the last three years. To cover the shortfall, the staff was reduced by half and executive pay was reduced by 15 percent. The museum is using volunteers and interns to help cover the reduction in staff. The museum has gone from operating on a $7 million budget to operating with a $4.5 million budget.

The museum recently launched the “Give a Grand, Make a Million,” fundraising campaign that asks donors to give at least $1,000. Donors have the option of breaking the donation into $83 a month payments. Supporters can also became a member for just $35. Donations can be made through the museum’s website at thewright.org.

Financial Juneteenth lessons from this story:

1) If we do not support black institutions, then no one else will.  We must get out of the mindset of always receiving and start learning how to give and invest.

2) Sadly, African Americans are collectively more comfortable giving their money to things that make them feel good than things that make us all better people.  It might feel good and right to tithe 10% of our income to black churches, but we should also tithe to our community for a better future.

black people and money

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