Mormon Author to be Part of Unveiling of National African American History Museum
MIDVALE, UTAH -- Darius Gray of Midvale, Utah, co-author with
Margaret Blair Young of "Standing on the Promises: One More River to
Cross" and "Bound for Canaan" a series of books dedicated to sharing
the seldom told story of African-American pioneers in The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been invited to be a
representative of Utah and his church at the unveiling of the
Collection of the new National Museum of African History and Culture
The lives of Gray and his ancestors will intersect with those of
General Colin Powell, Frederick Douglass, Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr., Soujorner Truth, Muhammed Ali, Louis Armstrong, and Phillis
Wheatley for the first time at the public unveiling of this new
African American History Museum.
The preview of the Museum will be held at the visitor's center of the
LDS Church's Washington, D.C. temple on January 31st. The program
will begin on the temple grounds at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. It will
then be on display through the last day of March 2002 from 10 a.m.
until 9 p.m. daily.
Gray is president of the Genesis Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints and will be speaking at the preview. Co-author
Margaret Blair Young is a creative writing professor at Brigham Young
University who wrote the play "I am Jane" (which will be playing in
conjunction with the Museum display at the LDS visitor's center) to
go along with the "Standing on the Promises" trilogy and has won
numerous awards from the Utah Arts Council, including Best Novel of
the Year in 1992 and 1995 and will also be attending the preview.
They will both be signing their "Standing on the Promises" books
February 1st and 2nd.
In addition to Mr. Gray, invited speakers include historian Alex
Haley, Jr., and Frederick Douglass IV, president of the friends of
the NMAAHC, and his wife B.J., both of whom will be featured in a
presentation about Frederick Douglass, the legendary speaker, writer,
editor, statesman and abolitionist.
The exhibit is part of the famed Mark E. Mitchell Collection of
African American History and kicks off several related events during
Black History Month in February.
The new proposed national museum's exhibition features one-of-a-kind
photographs, books, newspapers, letters, and documents. To date,
these treasures have been held by private collectors.
Some highlights of the museum include:
- An original letter from educator Carter G. Woodson, the founder of what would become Black History Month.
- A signed, first edition of the first book published by an African-American, Phillis Wheatley, in 1773.
- A hand-written letter from Frederick Douglass on the death of abolitionist Sojourner Truth.
- An original 1840 print depicting the famous mutiny aboard the Spanish slave ship, L'Amistad.
- "Glory," an original 1890 Kurz &Allison print of the 54th Massachusetts (Colored) Regiment attacking Fort Wagner.
- One of the first black newspapers, Frederick Douglass' legendary "North Star."
- An original note from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while in jail in Alabama.
- An original letter from Malcolm X to Alex Haley, author of "Roots."
The Washington Post says of the collection:
"The items in this collection represent the full range of African
American history: the monumental, the terrible and the indelible
moments of pride -- extraordinary."
In conjunction with the Friends of the NMAAHC, the LDS Church will
microfilm these treasures to preserve them and to make them available
to genealogists and historians around the world.
The exhibition kicks-off several related events during Black History
Month. Which includes:
- An Evening with the Genesis Group, an evening of music and testimony, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2002, at 7 p.m. with Darius Gray.
- A Faithful History of African-American Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, from 1832-2002, Sunday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. A presentation by Darius Gray and Margaret Blair Young, who are co-authors of the historic fiction trilogy, "Standing on the Promises"
- An African-American Family History Conference on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2002, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Daily work sessions with specialists in African-American genealogy, evenings from 6 to 9 p.m., Monday Feb. 4 through Friday, Feb. 9, 2002. Sessions include work with the new Freedman's Bank database
- Armchair Tour of Ethiopia and the Centeral African Republic with Gray Burgess and Carol Forrest, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2002 at 7 p.m.