At home at long last



Seattle will join Bremerton in some rarified air on March 8 as the Northwest African-American Museum opens its doors to the public.

Bremerton’s Black Historical Society of Kitsap County’s museum has been opened for about a year, and NAAM education director Brian Carter said both Dianne Robinson sand Pat Thomas have made a tremendous contribution to the Seattle facility.

“The Black Historical Society of Kitsap County provided us direct access to a truly amazing collection of stories, individuals and events that represent the experience of African Americans who have lived, and are currently living, on the Kitsap Peninsula,” Carter said.

The museum is using two artifacts and reproductions of approximately 20 photographs from the BHS collection in our opening exhibit, he said.

“Without the help of the BHS of Kitsap County, NAAM could not have created an opening exhibit that so richly reflects the diverse experiences of the African American community,” he said.

At the heart of the museum’s mission is a desire to reflect the art, history and culture of African Americans throughout the entire Pacific Northwest, which includes all parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and even areas of British Columbia, he said.

“After touring the museum, we would like visitors to leave having seen something that was familiar to them, something that was completely new to them and something that drives them to explore a topic or story in more depth,” he said. “The experiences of African Americans in this region stretch back to 1790, and as such, in our opening exhibits we can only highlight some of those individuals, institutions and events that have profoundly shaped the Black experience in the Northwest.”

The goal is to introduce the museum to the community and provide visitors a meaningful experience that makes them want to return, he said.

“The museum feels that the African American story is truly inseparable from the larger history of the Pacific Northwest,” he said. “NAAM is honored to preserve and share this story, as it truly enriches the quality of life for everyone living in the region.”

Part of that history includes the great strides made since the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, which include access to housing outside historically Black neighborhoods and access to new employment opportunities, he said.

“The African American community is currently undergoing an interesting evolution due to the influx of immigrants from East Africa,” Carter said. “With increasing numbers of new arrivals from countries such as Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan, the culture of the Black community is ever-evolving.”

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