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Saying yes, MAAM

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By Rohan Preston, Star Tribune

A festive array of Twin Cities philanthropists, executives and culture lovers gathered Monday at the former Amos B. Coe mansion near the Minneapolis Convention Center to see, touch and hear about the dream of the Minnesota African American Museum and Cultural Center (MAAM).
The brainchild of entrepreneur and philanthropist Roxanne Givens, the museum is to highlight the history and contributions of Minnesota’s African-American community. Plans are that it will open in summer 2011, with a $6 million renovation and addition nearly doubling the current 8,500-square-foot space. A small theater is also planned.
Event chair Walter Mondale, who was not present because of serious family obligation, sent a congratulatory message. Mary Lee Dayton, Emily Anne Tuttle and Marcia Stout were among those who came to the unfinished space to listen to music and poetry performed by T. Mychael Rambo and Thomasina Petrus, and to see photographs and artifacts from the likes of Gordon Parks and Langston Hughes.
Attendees also included retired university president and General Mills foundation leader Reatha Clark King; Penumbra Theatre founder Lou Bellamy and his wife, Colleen; Hennepin County commissioner Peter McLaughlin; retired judge LaJune Lange; Melvin Tennant, President & CEO of Meet Minneapolis, the city’s official convention and visitors association; civil rights icon Josie Johnson; Phebe Givens, matriarch of a philanthropic family, son Archie Givens, Jr. and his wife, Carol Meshbesher Givens; and filmmakers Daniel Bergin and Robin Hickman.

“This is about keeping knowing history and keeping memory alive,” said Roxanne Givens. “Without a sense of history, we don’t know who we are. And if we don’t know who we are, then others can’t know us.”
Added retired Macalester history professor Mahmoud El-Kati: “This is a potent vision for our state and the nation. It’s in the right place and at the right time.”

Written by Symphony

June 29, 2010 at 12:44 pm

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