February is Black History Month but Black history, art, and culture are celebrated year-round at the Northwest African American Museum. This award-winning museum is located in the historic Colman School building adjacent to Jimi Hendrix Park in Seattle’s Central District. The museum and park welcome people of all ages.
Currently, and through March 15, you’ll find a museum exhibit called Iconic Black Women: Ain’t I a Woman, featuring the work of local artist Hiawatha D., who pays “homage to the resilience, power and beauty of Black women and Black Women history-makers.”
You will also find an interactive historical exhibit called Legacies of Love in Leadership: Community Educators and Activists, honoring the founder of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Bertha Pitts Campbell, and the sorority’s 17th national president, educator Mona Humphries Bailey, PhD. The sorority is an international public service organization with more than 200,000 members and 900 chapters.
Ms. Campbell was an activist and organizer in Seattle. She founded the sorority in 1913, was a charter member of Christian Friends for Racial Equality, worked with the Seattle Urban League, and was the first Black member of the YWCA of Seattle-King County board of directors. Ms. Campbell marched for women’s suffrage and racial equality—even at age 92—and lived to nearly 101 years of age.
Dr. Bailey was a teacher, counselor, principal, and administrator with Seattle Public Schools, then Assistant Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and later on the faculty at the University of Washington. She chaired the Washington MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) program and was involved in developing numerous educational programs and nonprofit organizations. Dr. Bailey served on the Washington State Board of Education from 2015 until she passed away in January 2018 at age 79.
Last October, the Northwest African American Museum launched its Descendants Series, which brings living descendants of notable African American civil rights figures to Seattle for conversation, with a presentation by Michelle Duster, the great-granddaughter of legendary civil rights and women’s suffragist icon Ida B. Wells.
Continuing the Descendants Series, at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 29, the museum will feature a distinguished panel of speakers descended from enslaved freedom seekers who wrote self-narratives during the 19th century. The seven panelists are:
- Lynne Jackson, descendant of Dred Scott (1799–1858)
- Vera Williams, descendant of Solomon Northup (1808–1863), upon whom the feature film Twelve Years a Slave is based
- Regina Mason, descendant of William Grimes (1784–1865)
- Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely, descendant of Ellen Craft (1826–1891) and William Craft (1824–1900)
- Carver Gayton, descendant of Lewis Clarke (1812–1897)
- Susi Ryan, descendant of Venture Smith (1729–1805)
- Rhonda Brace, descendant of Jeffrey Brace (1742–1827)
The Northwest African American Museum admission charge for people age 62 or older is $5. Members are admitted free. Learn about these and other admission options, as well as location and hours, at www.naamnw.org/visit/location-admission. New volunteers are also welcome.
For more information, call 206-518-6000 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: Special thanks to LaNesha DeBardelaben, executive director of the Northwest African American Museum, for advance information about the Descendants Series presentation on Feb. 29.
Photo credit: “Northwest African American Museum,” at top, by Rob Ketcherside (2011), accessed on Flickr Creative Commons at https://flic.kr/p/9MQS11.