Charles Wright And The Museum Of African American History

Out of the dream of Dr. Charles Wright, there has developed the Museum of African American History in Detroit.

It was the dream of Dr. Charles Wright to develop a museum that would accurately chronicle the contributions and history of African Americans. He wanted to have a museum that showed the contribution of black men and women to the life and culture of this country. That dream has become a reality that has grown into the largest museum dedicated to African American culture and history in the world.

A practicing physician, Dr. Wright used his vacations and other free time to travel the world and collect artifacts from Africa and all other parts of the world.

In 1965, Dr. Wright converted a home he owned in a Detroit westside neighborhood and opened the International African-American Museum (then called (IAM). For the next thirteen years Dr. Wright continued to work and collect artifacts. He also developed outreach and educational programs to local and regional schools. Doctor Wright would often spend all his available free time lecturing school and community groups, showing artifacts, and engaging in fundraising for the museum. The museum soon became the sight of regularly scheduled field trips for many community and school groups in the region, with people coming from as far away as Western Canada.

During this time Dr. Wright became the subject of many articles in newspapers and magazines, and local television and radio started to highlight his work. All the while Dr. Wright carried on an active medical practice as a well respected Obstetrican/Gynecologist at one of Detroit's most prominent hospitals. As the number of vistors grew Dr. Wright was forced to make some adjustments and hired a full time director for his museum in the early 1970's. Though never able to lend his complete attention to his project Dr. Wright remained, as he is to this day, deeply involved in all aspects of the museum.

In 1978 he saw the program he had led come to fruition with the ground breaking of a 28,000 square foot building located in the Detroit Cultural Center Area, the structure now named the Museum of African American History of Detroit. The start of this building came from a program to build a new museum call "Buy a Brick". This program was so successful that it fired the imaginations of city leaders including Mayor Coleman Young. Grass roots support gain official backing and a bond issue. Increased publicity and support lead to a new 120,000 square foot home for the museum built on the grounds adjacent to the 1978 structure.

This new museum opened in 1995 to rave reviews for both its beauty as a structure and its depth of content. In a short time it has become a center piece of tourist attractions in Detroit's Cultural Center. Yet there is more!

This year Mayor Dennis Archer announced an expansion program which will make the Museum of African American History in Detroit the largest Museum of its kind in the world! Already developing a reputation for its content and aesthetics, the museum is a source of pride for all Detroitiers.

For over forty years Dr. Charles Wright gave birth to and nurtured a dream. His dedication and vision has developed into a gift to the city of Detroit, and to the world. Dr. Charles Wright had a dream and the reality of his vision has proven wonderous indeed!

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