05 December 2011

The Sylvia Gaither Garrison Library Celebrates It's Fourth Anniversary

Prior to the holiday season, the chairman of the Maryland Commision on African American History and Culture, Ted Mack, along with Commisioner Dr. Clara Small, Dr. Joni Jones, executive director of the Maryand Commission on African American History and Culture and director of the Banneker-Douglass Museum, Alma Cropper, president of the Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center, Betty M. Coleman, president of Friends of the Banneker-Douglass Museum, Dwyane Lee and Linda Simms, board members of the Banneker-Douglass Museum Foundation, the family of Sylvia Gaither Garrison, and many others gathered together at the Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the Sylvia Gaither Garrison Library.

C. R. Gibbs, the keynote speaker, captivated the audience, as he shared the many dramatic stories of bravery by both Caucasions and African Americans that occured during the antebellum period in Maryland. One story in particular stood out: William Chaplin, a Caucasion abolitionist, hid two enslaved men: Garland White and Allen, whose last name is unknown, in his carriage and was taking them to freedom when six armed men stopped the carriage by putting a fence rail between the spokes of the wheel. Then, they shot into the carriage, but one of the enslaved men fired back. The joy of freedom, unfortunately, was denied both men on that day. Determined to be free, Garland White escaped from slavery and became a chaplain in the 28th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops. It was stories like this and others that made Gibbs' lecture compelling.

As Gibbs came to te conclusion of his lecture, the audience didn't want it to end. In fact, they felt the topic was so satisfying tht they posed several though provoking questions to the historian, after the hour long lecture concluded.

Pictured from left to right: Alma Cropper, C.R. Gibbs & Lynn Waller

29 November 2011

Winter Programs

Hi everyone

Just wanted you to take note of the new programs listed in the right hand column. More programs to be added later this week.

Come out and join us!

15 November 2011

Sylvia Gaither Garrison Library's Fourth Anniversary Celebration

Runners: Maryland Fugitives from Slavery: A Lecture by C.R. Gibbs

Saturday, November 19, 2011
Location: Bates Legacy Center, 1101 Smithville Street, Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Free, Open to the public
Registration encouraged
To register, call 410.216.6181 or email
BDMPrograms@goci.state.md.us by November 16th

Join the Banneker-Douglass Museum in celebrating the 4th anniversary of the Sylvia Gaither Garrison Library. Historian and author C.R. Gibbs will discuss historic figures, such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and their escape from slavery.

This program is sponsored by the Banneker-Douglass Museum and the Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center.

21 October 2011

Banneker-Douglass Museum, Maryland State Archives, and Historic Annapolis Present

Flee! Stories of Flight from Maryland in Black and White
Exhibition Opening and Talk by Dr. Ira Berlin

Tuesday, 1 November 2011
5:00 p.m. — 7:00 p.m.

Banneker-Douglass Museum
84 Franklin Street, Annapolis, MD, 21401

Commemorate the 148th anniversary of the end of slavery in Maryland at the opening of themuseum’s latest exhibition. Designed by the Archives’ Study of the Legacy of Slavery in Maryland, this traveling exhibition highlights rare historical documents that give testament to the daily operation of slavery in our state Join us for a living history performance from Historic Annapolis’ highly acclaimed Project Runaway followed by nationally renowned historian and author, Dr. Ira Berlin, as he shares some of his views on the Underground Railroad and slavery in Maryland.

For more information or to register for this program, please contact the Banneker-Douglass Museum at 410.216.6181 or email BDMPrograms@goci.state.md.us.

Teachers who pre-register for this program will receive a complimentary document pack.

21 September 2011


My office ceiling has been really loud today. Working in the old part of the museum (former Mount Moriah building), sounds seem to carry really well whenever anyone is in the sanctuary. This can be helpful at times such as when large groups come in the building without scheduling in advance. It can also be distracting such as when my tour groups are in the sanctuary making a lot of noise while working on projects. Fortunately I am not in my office during that noise, but my co-workers probably don't revel in the sounds of tour groups coming through their ceilings.

Today the noise isn't due to groups in the building, but rather the installation of the museum's newest exhibition, Selections from In Each Other's Shoes. This exhibition, which opens on Sunday, October 1, 2011, features several artworks by Baltimore artist Loring Cornish. He creates artwork from found objects, turning them into mosaics. The mosaics in the exhibit at the museum all center on the African American and Jewish history and culture and the ways they intersect with special focus on the Civil Rights Movement and the Holocaust.

The artworks arrived at the museum on Monday and are being installed on the first floor of the sanctuary all this week. Installation of these works is no easy task as they are quite large with many components and small pieces for the art handlers to accommodate. The exhibit pieces are actually so large they take up the entire main floor of the former sanctuary. As a result we will be hosting many upcoming programs in sites other than the Banneker-Douglass Museum.

Be sure to keep an eye out for upcoming programs and their locations. Here are a few installation shots to give you an idea of what is coming in. Please be sure to join us for the opening reception of Selections from In Each Other's Shoes on October 2, 2011 from 1-3 p.m. at the museum.

07 September 2011

BDM Returns to Regular Hours

The BDM is now open Tuesday - Saturday from 10am - 4pm.  Come visit us!

26 August 2011

BDM Closed

Hi everyone!

With Hurricane Irene's pending visit to Maryland, the Banneker-Douglass Museum will be closed on Saturday, 27 August 2011. If you are in the area please take the necessary precautions and stay safe.

For updated safety information and the latest on the State of Maryland's Hurricane Irene preparations, please visit the following websites:

Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)

MEMA Hurricane Irene State of Emergency page

19 August 2011


Summer is drawing to a close and with it another tourist season ends. As a tourist destination, one would think that the museum would be heading into "slow time," but in fact we are ramping up for the busier time of our year. We have new exhibitions coming in which means installation plans to work out and execute, new programming calendars to plan, school programs and tours to design, research to conduct, publicity to do, etc. Like I said, very busy.

As Tabitha wrote in the previous posting, we are preparing for the arrival of Loring Cornish's In Each Other's Shoes. This exhibit has the staff very excited. For my part, I am working up a series of program offerings for the next eight months that I think is really interesting. The new calendar will have a variety of programs including concerts, performances, family days, artmaking opportunities, and a few other intriguing offerings. We will be releasing the calendar soon, so please make sure to check back on the blog.

For right now, please mark your calendars for Sunday, October 2, 2011 and plan to attend the opening reception for In Each Other's Shoes. More details to come in the next few weeks! Have a great rest of the summer!

10 August 2011

Loring Cornish at the Jewish Museum of Maryland

The Banneker-Douglass Museum would like to recognize the Jewish Museum of Maryland and their current exhibit Loring Cornish: In Each Other's Shoes. Mr. Cornish, known for his row-houses turned art in Baltimore, focused his exhibit on "acknowledging the shared Jewish and African-American heritage of the Lloyd Street heritage."

Mr. Cornish's previous exhibition focused on Civil Rights in the African American community, and was shown at Morgan State University. His perspective changed after meeting with a local Jewish couple: “Everything changed. I realized I could not use my art to talk about the struggles of only one community,” Cornish said. “I was struck by the connections between the struggles of Jews and Blacks.” Mr. Cornish took the mosaics from the Civil Rights exhibition and used the opposite side to create related pieces with Jewish themes.

To read more about this exhibition, please see the Jewish Museum of Maryland's website or plan a visit. The exhibition will be at the Jewish Museum until September 15, 2011, after which BDM looks to exhibit a sampling of the pieces in our galleries. Keep posted for updates!


Pictured above:
Formation of the Star ©2009 Loring Cornish.

03 August 2011

Turner Station Heritage & Praise Celebration Honoring Henrietta Lacks

Date: Saturday, August 6, 2011
Time: Noon-5pm
Location: Baltimore’s Historic Turner Station
Admission: Free
Parking: Free, On-Street
For More Information: Contact Ms. Courtney Speed, Program Organizer, 410-340-4888

Part I: Program
Union Baptist Church
105 Main St
Dundalk, MD 21222 [Turner Station]
(410) 282-7944

27 July 2011

Meet Ja-Zette Marshburn


My name is Ja-Zette Marshburn, and I am very excited to be working as the Walter Hill Fellow in Archives at the Banneker-Douglass Museum in conjunction with the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture. I am a lifelong Marylander, hailing from the historic Prince George's County. Recently, I transplanted to Montgomery County-- another area known for its historic political and military connections. Currently, I am pursuing my Master's in Archival Science and Information Management at the University of Maryland College Park. I am entering my second year of study.

I have had lifelong love of history coupled with the serendipitous training in the archival profession since I was a young child. I can remember perusing my grandmother collection of Ebony and Jet magazines that went back to the 1940s and being so enamored by them; I took great care to read and preserve them. It was also during this time that my love and zest for history began particularly with a deep interest in African American history and culture. I was an accomplished student and was awarded several scholarships finally bringing me to pursue my collegiate studies at the renowned Hampton University, a historically black university located in Hampton, Virginia. Unfortunately, after a number of misfortunes, I could not finish my studies at Hampton, but with tragedy comes triumph. I graduated with honors from University of Maryland University College (UMUC) with a major in History with an emphasis on African American studies.

Once I completed my undergraduate studies, I knew I wanted to continue my education at UMUC's sister school, University of Maryland College Park (UMCP) because of its affiliation with world-renowned information institutions, most specifically the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and its connection to Dr. Walter Hill.

Dr. Walter Hill was an author, teacher and historical consultant but most specifically, he was a senior archivist and African American subject area specialist at NARA. He was also a former member of the MCAAHC and I am invested in being able to continue Dr. Hill's and the MCHAAC vision to illuminate the African American experience in Maryland with the use of archival records. I am honored and excited to be working here in a fellowship with named after one of my heroes in the archival profession. I am delighted to be working with the staff at the Banneker-Douglass Museum in a pursuit to process the archival records of the MCAAHC with a goal to elucidate individuals on the commission's history and purpose that will educate and enlighten generations to come.

09 July 2011

An Evening with

Jason Luckett

Saturday, July 23, 2011, 7-9pm

Banneker-Douglass Museum

84 Franklin Street

Annapolis, MD, 21401

Come experience the smooth sounds of alternative rock guitarist Jason Luckett


$15 in advance

$20 at the door

To purchase or reserve tickets contact:

J. Michael Powell





• This event is suitable for ages sixteen and above.

30 June 2011

Introducing Steve Carioti

I am a native of Prince George's County, Maryland, where I curently reside with my fiance Bobi Sofou and her daughter Anna. I am the third child of five boys. My parents also reside in Prince George's County.

I am a full time student at Prince George's Community College (PGCC) in Largo, Maryland. I plan to complete my studies at PGCC in the spring of 2012 at which point I will recieve my Associate's degree in General Studies. Upon completetion, I plan to transfer to Bowie State University, where I will pursue a Bachelor's degree in history.

I've lived in Maryland for most of my life, except for a seven year period where I lived in Los Angeles, California. I worked as a production and writer's assistant at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California on such shows as "Hanging with Mr. Cooper," "The West Wing," "ER," and several other productions.

I love playing most sports; however, hockey is my favorite. I also enjoy reading historically significant books that typically center around the American Revolutionary period.

I recently started a stamp collection and vintage toy car collection. I enjoy visiting museums in my spare time. The National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. is my favorite museum to visit.

My longtime goals are to secure a position working in the field of history and to further my education, once I've completed my studies at Bowie State University.

Pictured: Steve Carioti

29 June 2011

Introducing Michelle Angeli

I grew up and still live in Gambrills, Maryland, just north-west of Annapolis. At a young age, I experienced the local history. Many school trips were to Annapolis and many other local historical places. So now it's exciting to be working in the Sylvia Gaither Garrison Library. I have had many interests since I was little. I'm an avid reader; I sing; and play the violin. Right now, I sing in my church choir and praise band, "Whatever". I've been singing most of my life, but I was also interested in dance for 13 years, even performing in the Nutcracker annually. Finally, I've always had an interest in History. My love for history started in the elementary school. My teachers and later my professors always taught history with so much enthusiasm that I wanted to learn more.

After graduating from South River High School in 2003, I continued my education at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC), where I continued Music and History courses. I performed with the AACC Orchestra and the Choir. I did well academically with being on the Dean's list from 2004-2005 and became a Phi Theta Kappa member. With an Associates of Arts degree in general studies, I transferred to University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). At UMBC, I started to concentrate on a major and realized I was taking enough history courses to get a history degree. While I was there, I was lucky enough to get a chance to study abroad in Ireland for a year at University College Cork (UCC) from 2006-2007 where I learned the history of the Early Christians, Women in Irish Society, Marriage, Vikings and the Ancient Celts. I continued to sing and learn the fiddle there. I received an award as runner up in RAG Idol, a singing event at School, in 2006. When I came home, I took as many European and Asian History courses as I could. At UMBC, it was required to take United States History courses, so I took a wide range of classes from Native Americans, Early American, the Founding Fathers, Women in European and Colonial Societies, the History of the Paintings, Architecture, Places and People during the Renaissance of Italy and Northern Europe, Japanese History through Film, and Western Civilizations. Finally, I graduated from UMBC in December 2008 with a Bachelor's of Arts degree in History.

My history lessons did not end there. I've been able to travel to places I learned about in school and church. I went to Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and Budapest in 2006 with a Collegiate Laureate Music Delegation program. We learned about the Cathedrals, Opera theaters and music schools. In 2008, with the Ecumenical Church Choir (POP ETC), we went to Germany where we sang in the Cathedrals of Leipzeig, Halle, Dresden, Wittenburg, Munich and Franfurt. I had the opportunity to sing a solo over Bach's grave. Awesome musical history! I love when my two favorites, history and music go hand in hand. In January 2010, I went to Egypt with my parents and in May 2011 we went to Turkey. We plan to go to Peru in October 2011. I loved the travelling experience and learning the history of the places I visit. I plan to have many more of these experiences.

Pictured: Michelle Angeli

07 June 2011

Music to Our Ears

Last week the Banneker-Douglass Museum opened the Music to Our Ears exhibition. This exhibit is the product of a school-museum-community collaboration between the museum, Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Banneker-Douglass Museum Foundation, and the Blacks of the Chesapeake Foundation. The exhibit tells the story of Carr's and Sparrow's Beaches, two local landmarks with rich connections to the community. Over the course of the spring semester, Education & Public Programs Manager Genevieve Kaplan worked with Southern Senior High School's African American history class to interview community members about their experiences at the beaches. While conducting oral history interviews, the students were able to get first hand knowledge of the beaches and take an active role in documenting history.

Students spent the semester interviewing family members who attended the beaches as well as community members who worked and attended the beaches. Through their interviews they uncovered stories about sneaking into the beaches, varying disciplinary measures taken by security staff to maintain the peace, the many celebrities and performers coming to the beaches, and the lasting impact these landmarks had on the lives of people in Anne Arundel County and beyond.

The students were also fortunate to be able to research historic photos and newspaper articles thanks to the Afro's Black History Archives online and the digitized photos on the Maryland State Archives's website. These images were combined by the Print and Design staff at Anne Arundel County Public Schools with text written by the students and edited by museum and school staff to create exhibition panels. The exhibit panels tell many stories of life at the beaches in full color.

The exhibition opened last Tuesday to a crowd of nearly 75 people. The students shared their research as well as took questions from the audience on the beaches. During the presentation, the students shared their reflections on the semester as well as their heightened pride in their community and its history.

This is the second year for the Music to Our Ears project. The first year involved students at Annapolis High School conducting research and interviews with the final result being a mini-documentary. The documentary will start screening in the museum in a few weeks as part of the exhibition.

12 May 2011

Curator's Corner

We are pleased to present our newest accession of 2011!

On April 13, Ms. Donna Schmitz, art teacher of Lothian Elementary School, presented us with the school’s mural of President Barack Obama, an adaptation of the now-famous “Hope” campaign poster designed by street-artist and political activist Shepard Fairey during the 2008 presidential campaign. The mural, designed to serve as a reminder of the positive spirit of that historic campaign and created to honor President Obama’s Inauguration in January of 2009, was a collaboration between students and faculty in which each and every member of the Lothian Elementary community participated. The mural itself was painted in sections by different students, and the “frame” that surrounds the mural is a collage that highlights and celebrates American diversity. The border contains the signature of each participant. The sides of the mural features postcards created by older students, which focus on the importance of core values that all Americans, regardless of political affiliation, hold dear: love, freedom, and the importance of education for our collective future.

Our mission here at Banneker-Douglass is to preserve and promote over 4 centuries of African American history, culture, and art in Maryland. President Obama’s election and inauguration are important parts of that history. Lothian Elementary’s mural functions as a reminder to all of us that educating young people about culture, public affairs, and museums is an important part of ensuring that story can move forward. We’re glad to have it as part of our collection.

10 May 2011

Upcoming Special Exhibitions at the Museum

In the month of June, the Banneker-Douglass Museum will be exhibiting two new temporary exhibitions. The first exhibition will display the work of local contemporary artist Cisco Davis. This exhibit has three themes; works on the American Civil Rights Movement, Cisco Davis' personal life, and selected works on the African American experience. Davis draws inspiration from artist like Rembrandt and Cal Massey. His attention to detail is influenced by the work of fashion illustrators of the 1940s and 50s.

In conjunction with the Maryland State Archives, BDM is exhibiting A Charge towards Freedom: Resistance to Slavery in Maryland. This exhibition will highlight events in Maryland surrounding the resistance and call for the end of slavery.

19 April 2011

Exploring the Autobiography of Matthew Henson

On April 6, 1909, Matthew Henson became the first person to walk on the North Pole. The rare book, A Negro Explorer at the North Pole, the first addition copy of which the Sylvia Gaither Garrison Library owns, serves as Henson's account of that landmark achievement. In addition to discussing his historic journey to the north pole, he also gives an autobiographical account of his formative years. The book also includes a forward from Robert Peary, a retired United States Navy Rear Admiral as well as an introduction by Booker T. Washington, the most influential African American during the early part of the 20th century.

Pictured: Matthew Henson

06 April 2011

Introducing Tabitha Pryor, Curator of Collections

Tabitha Pryor has been brought on as the new Curator of Collections here at the Banneker-Douglass Museum. Originally from Hagerstown, a small town in Western Maryland, Tabitha received her B.A. from Bridgewater College in Virginia. She obtained her Master’s degree in History at The University of Delaware as well as a certificate in Museum Studies. Before coming to the museum, she worked at The Rural Heritage Museum in Boonsboro, MD, cataloging the personal and professional collection of Dr. Peter Fahrney. Tabitha has also done work at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, and The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum.

Her primary responsibility at the Banneker-Douglass will be caring for the museum’s extensive collection of artifacts which provide an invaluable window into four centuries of African American life in Maryland. Tabitha also has the essential task of ensuring that these important objects are being properly preserved, catalogued, and displayed so that future generations of historians and citizens will be able to examine them for evidence about our shared past. She will be looking for more ways to incorporate the museum’s collection in exhibits at the museum itself as well as for educational purposes throughout the state. She is honored to be serving her home state of Maryland and bringing the history of her fellow citizens together.

When not at work, she can be found at her home in Annapolis with her extremely lovable pets.

05 April 2011

New Curator on Board... Introducing J. Michael Powell

J. Michael Powell is the Banneker Douglass Museum’s new Curator of Exhibitions. Joseph Michael Powell is a native of Richmond, Virginia. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science from Virginia Union University and has candidacy for a Master of Arts degree in Liberal Studies from Loyola University Maryland. He has additional graduate study in history and museum studies from Virginia State University and Morgan State University. Previous to coming to the Banneker Douglass Museum, Mr. Powell was the Assistant Curator and Historian at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. As the Assistant Curator, he assisted in the creation and research of exhibitions. He has a vested interest in sharing history and culture with the public and embraces a personal philosophy of education through self- discovery. Mr. Powell looks forward to creating new and innovative exhibitions for the BDM, with an initial exhibition in May on Slavery in Maryland in conjunction with the Maryland State Archives.

22 March 2011

Ar'n't I A Woman?

As I was pondering what I could write for Women's History Month, I remembered one special woman who used her words to describe her status as a Black woman. Rather than blog about the significance of women in history, one woman's words live on as a first hand account of that significance. Enjoy this incredible speech, in it's original text.

"Ar'n't I a Woman?" (1851)
by Sojourner Truth

Wall, chilern,
whar dar is so much racket
dar must be somethin' out o' kilter.
I tink dat 'twixt de nigger of de Souf
and de womin at de Norf,
all talkin' 'bout rights,
de white men will be in a fix pretty soon.
But what's all dis here talkin' 'bout?

Dat man ober dar say
dat womin needs to be helped into carriages,
and lifted ober ditches,
and to hab de best place everywhar.
Nobody eber halps me into carriages,
or ober mudpuddles,
or gibs me any best place!
And ar'n't I a woman?

Look at me!
Look at my arm! 
I have ploughed,
and planted,
and gathered into barns,
and no man could head me!
And ar'n't I a woman?

I could work as much
and eat as much as a man --
when I could get it --
and bear de lash as well!
And ar'n't' I a woman?

I have borne thirteen chilern,
and seen 'em mos' all sold off to slavery,
and when I cried out with my mother's grief,
none but Jesus heard me!
And ar'n't I a woman?

Den dey talks 'bout dis ting in de head;
what dis dey call it?
(whispered someone near).
Dat's it, honey.
What's dat got to do wid womin's rights
or nigger's rights?
If my cup won't hold but a pint,
and yourn holds a quart,
wouldn't ye be mean
not to let me have my little half-measure full?

Den dat little man in black dar,
he say women can't have as much rights as men,
'cause Christ wan't a woman!
Whar did your Christ come from? 
Whar did your Christ come from?
From God and a woman!
Man had nothin' to do wid Him.

If de fust woman God ever made
was strong enough to turn de world upside down
all alone,
dese women togedder ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!
And now dey is asking to do it,
de men better let 'em.

Bleeged to ye for hearin' on me,
and now ole Sojourner
han't got nothin' more to say."

24 February 2011

February 24, 2011--Happy Birthday BDM!!

The Banneker-Douglass Museum of African American Life and History opened to the public on February 24, 1984. It was renamed the Banneker-Douglass Museum of African American History and Culture in 1993. Pictured in the photo from that day addressing the crowd, is Carroll Greene--the first person to hold the joint position of executive director of the MD Commission on African American History and Culture and museum director. Also pictured (second from left) is Senator Verda Freeman Welcome, the first African American woman to serve in the Maryland House of Delegates and the first to become a state senator in the United States. Senator Welcome introduced the bill creating the MD Commission on African American History and Culture (1969) and the BDM. It was through their hard work and the tireless efforts of many individuals, grassroots community groups, preservation organizations, the City of Annapolis, and our State, that the BDM came into being. Thank you all and happy 27th BDM!

10 February 2011

Badge of Honor

Louie McKinney, the first career deputy to be appointed the acting director of the United States Marshals Service, donated a copy of his memoir: One Marshal's Badge to the Sylvia Gaither Garrison Library at the Banneker-Douglass Museum.

Before serving as a special investigator for the FBI, McKinney served with distinction in the U.S. Marshals Service. He guarded John Hinckley, the man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. He, in addition, was a member of the Special Operations Group, a unit who is held in high esteem in the U.S. Marshals Service. Mr. McKinney has also worked with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

As with most men of distinction, Hollywood came calling. As a result, Chase, a television show which presents the work of a U.S. Marshal, employed McKinney as a consultant.

Pictured: Louie McKinney & Lynn Waller inside the Sylvia Gaither Garrison Library at the Banneker-Douglass Museum.

24 January 2011

Life is Like A Box of Chocolate

It’s true, “you never know what you’re gonna get” out of life because it doesn’t always go according to plan.  All the planning in the world would not have prepared me for the roller coaster ride I had in planning “Garment of Destiny: A Day of Remembrance and Service.” This event was in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and inspired by a quote from Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham” (1963), “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” With a lot of hard work and motivation, this event proved to be one of the most enjoyable. When you're passionate about something, you are willing to go the extra mile to make it the best it can be and I was extremely passionate about this event. Hard work and commitment, really pay off.
At the end of November/early December, I was asked to organize a Martin Luther King Jr. event that would encourage service and volunteerism. Being the thespian I am, I immediately thought of volunteers performing a series of monologues and literary passages to commemorate the progression of African Americans and equality in this country. All I would have to do is select which figures to portray and recruit volunteers for each role. Simple, right? Wrong. Compiling the text for the monologues/literary passages (script) was a headache in and of itself. I had an idea of which readings I wanted to use, but I could only find them in my text books and novels from college. I had to type the majority of the script from books, as well as write the introductions for each reading. Recruiting enough volunteers to fill each role was difficult as well. Not to mention that I ran into three major holidays, I have a second job, and I had mono...not the best combination to have when planning an event.  Nevertheless, through the encouragement of others, I remained optimistic and continued to give one hundred percent. 
Before I knew it, it was the first week of January and there was still a significant amount of work to be done before the big day. Ever notice how life’s most unpredictable moments tend to bring the best out of you? Well, I experienced several unpredictable moments. The Thursday before the event, which was on a Monday, the second half of the event’s program (following intermission) and other changes had to be made on the program. All I kept thinking was, “What am I going to do? There’s no way I can come up with something this late.” As I was driving across the bay bridge, back to the Eastern Shore, ideas for the second half of the event were running through my mind, but nothing seemed to fit. I had the urge to literally throw up my hands as a sign of defeat, but I couldn’t because I was driving. Then I started talking out loud. You know that conversation you and yourself have when you declare, “If one more thing goes wrong, I’m done!” I had one of those conversations. Unfortunately, I spoke too soon. Friday, I received an email that one of the performers was pulling out of the production and I still had no idea what I was going to do to fill the second half of the program. Well, the show must go on, right?
Friday night, the idea of doing a medley of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speeches for the second half of the program popped into my head, so I ran with it. I spent Saturday morning and afternoon, reading through Dr. King’s writings and speeches, to decide which ones to use. Then came the task of choosing the paragraphs to be read from each speech/writing so that they flowed with one another. Another unexpected difficulty. And what was I going to do about the performer who pulled out? Luckily, a friend heard about my dilemma and agreed to perform as many readings as I needed her to do. Phew. One less thing I had to worry about for the weekend. I spent the remainder of the weekend distributing the Medley of King piece to the “Garment of Destiny” cast and finishing last minute details for the event.
 I woke up Monday morning, feeling relaxed. It was the big day and I was excited to see this event come to fruition. Despite some volunteers getting lost and parking in downtown Annapolis being basically nonexistent, all of the volunteers arrived and we worked together to get everything set up; from the registration table, the stage, the refreshment table, and the hands-on activity (for people to write their personal destinies and dreams for the future). Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a national day of service and each of the volunteers showed up with an attitude to serve. No one murmured or complained. It was truly a team effort; a testament that you are only strong as the others around you. I wasn’t sure how many people were going to attend “Garment of Destiny” but even if there were only three people in the audience, I knew everyone was going to do their best.
Turns out, one hundred and twenty individuals were in attendance! Many of them stayed after the readings were over to tour the rest of the museum, mingle a little, and take part in the activity of recording their own dreams in the museum’s family gallery. The event itself far exceeded my expectations; along with hearing how many of those in attendance had learned something new and were interested in volunteering with the Banneker-Douglass Museum further. How awesome is that?! This is definitely one of the highlights of my service year as a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator. 
If anyone is interested in volunteering as a tour guide (docent) or for upcoming events at the Banneker-Douglass Museum, feel free to contact Joyell Johnson at 410.216.6187 or by email at JJohnson1@goci.state.md.us.