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.
Jet, Black, Brown and Tan: The Legacy of John H. Johnson
October 1 - December 30, 2016
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
July 29 - September 28, 2016
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.