The African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey (AAHMSNJ) sprang from the passion of its founder, Ralph E. Hunter, Sr. After retiring from a long career in retail, Ralph began collecting cultural treasures that he stumbled on while traveling or just by being an astute observer of his surroundings. That’s a fancy way of saying he found some of his “treasures” on the curb on trash day.
Ralph’s apartment was affectionately referred to by his friends as “The Museum.” In 2002, his museum became a reality when he was offered a space by the mayor of Buena Vista Township. This allowed him to show off his treasures, put to use his talent for display, and share stories about the meaning behind the artifacts he collected — the first of which was a copy of “Little Black Sambo” by Helen Bannerman. Hunter had painful memories of that book growing up and bought it to take it off the market. That same book is now the centerpiece of a vast collection of paintings, ceramics and advertising and branding memorabilia that portrays African Americans in both a flattering and unflattering way. They may make some uncomfortable, but they also serve to start the larger conversation about the true African American experience.
The African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey, Inc. is celebrating 15 years of highlighting the accomplishments and impact of African Americans in South Jersey and around the country. AAHMSNJ is a 501(c)3 non-profit with exhibit locations in Atlantic City and Newtonville, New Jersey. For more information about the exhibition, visit AAHMSNJ.org or call 609.350.6662.
Atlantic City Museum Hours:
Wednesday-Saturday 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Sunday 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Admission is FREE. Donations are encouraged.
Womens' History Month Exhibition: Five South Jersey Artists
March 1 - April 30, 2017
OPENING RECEPTION: Second Friday, March 10, 5:00 to 8:00pm - Artists Hazel Levy, Tamu King and Najee Watson, as well as the family of Edythe Green will be on hand to talk about the art, its influence and impact. The event is part of the Noyes Arts Garage's Second Friday.
The African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey, Inc. will celebrate Women’s History Month with an exhibition showcasing the work of five South Jersey artists. The work of Hazel Levy, Edythe Greene, Tamu King, Soundra Usry-Hollingsworth and Najee Watson will be on view from March 1 to 31 at the AAHMSNJ at The Arts Garage in Atlantic City. This ambitious showing spans generations and includes three highly respected Atlantic City natives and two mainland artists.
The posthumous display of paintings by Edythe Greene and Soundra Usry-Hollingsworth is a nod to an earlier generation. Both women were well known for their roles in Atlantic City’s African American community. The paintings of Hazel Levy, another long-time resident of Atlantic City, are expressive portraits, landscapes, and still life arrangements being shown publicly for the first time. These women shared a passion for art that was deferred for lives spent in service to community and family.
The exhibition also includes the paintings of Tamu King, a Cumberland County artist who describes her abstracts and landscapes as healing therapy. The lone male in the exhibit, Najee Watson, whose artwork is pictured above, approached his vision of the women featured in his photographs as a balance between nature and emotion rendered with the intent to generate aesthetic pleasure.
As Ralph Hunter, President and founder of the AAHMSNJ, explains, “The exhibition’s common thread is that the artists were compelled to indulge their creative passion. This exhibition exposes the result of their efforts to calm, heal, or inspire through their art."
Black Cowboys & Buffalo Soldiers
February 1 - April 30, 2017
OPENING RECEPTION: Second Friday, February 10, 5:00 to 8:00pm
The story of black cowboys and soldiers who have been absent from most historic accounts of the West.
The tale of the American cowboy has captivated historians, fascinated little boys and girls, and driven the plots of western novels and movies since the time of the Civil War, but the role that black cowboys, soldiers and pioneers played in opening the American frontier has been largely ignored. "Black Cowboys & Buffalo Soldiers," on display from February 1 to April 30 at the AAHMSNJ in Atlantic City, tells the story of the black cowboys and soldiers who have been absent from most historic accounts of the West. It focuses on the vital role that these African Americans played in America’s westward expansion and the success of the cattle industry.
Exhibition Curator Kimball Baker has written documentaries and features for the Voice of America, and is a former writer and editor for the U. S. Department of Labor. His works have been published in Readings in American History, 200 Years of American Worklife, Smithsonian, Ebony, Aviation Quarterly and a variety of publications.
Jet, Black, Brown and Tan: The Legacy of John H. Johnson
October 1, 2016 - December 31, 2017
OPENING RECEPTION: Second Friday, October 14, 5:00 to 8:00pm
John H. Johnson rose from humble beginnings to become an inﬂuential social and political personality. His company, Johnson Publishing, was launched with a $500 loan from his mother who used her furniture as collateral. His ﬁrst magazine, Negro Digest, was published n 1942. It was followed by Ebony Magazine in 1945, Tan Confessions in 1950, JET magazine in 1951, Hue, and Copper Romance in 1953, Ebony Man in 1985, Ebony South Africa in 1995, and later publications, African American Stars and Ebony Jr.
Johnson consulted with American presidents Nixon, Kennedy and Johnson and numerous political leaders. His example has paved the way for magazines such as Black Enterprise and Essence and inﬂuenced African Americans in every walk of life. His publishing empire provided opportunities for a generation of black professionals and workers at every level, yet it remained a family centered business. Johnson died in 2005 at 87 years of age.
A Time For Change: Civil Rights In South Jersey
February 1 - May 31, 2017:
Currently on view at AAHMSNJ in Newtonville, NJ
Explore South Jersey’s role in the Civil Rights Movement, from local desegregation and anti-discrimination movements, to iconic national events such as the 1964 Democratic National Convention protests in Atlantic City. A Time for Change: Civil Rights in South Jersey highlights these events and more.
From South Jerseyans’ pilgrimage to the historic March on Washington in 1963 to Freedom Summer’s arrival on the Boardwalk in the summer of 1964. From the first Miss Black America pageant in 1968, to the origins of Martin Luther King Day that same year. From local desegregation efforts to the Camden riots.