African American history often lives in the boxes, attics, closets and basements of private homes in family collections. The African American Cultural & Historical Museum of Washtenaw County’s goal is to document and display our local cultural arts, history and contributions – and place it in a regional, state, national and international context.
This can be accomplished through a robust collection of artifacts, documents, photographs and oral histories donated by the community, to the Museum. These items will be preserved and presented in exhibits at 1528 Pontiac Trail and shared interactively online for researchers, students, teachers and the community to learn from.
Two of the museum’s most prized artifacts are a gourd doll made by Karmen Brown, a descendant of Asher and Catherine Aray, The doll that Alice Harding Gilbert is holding belonged to the great grand daughter of Asher and Catherine Aray of Pittsfield Township. Alice is the daughter of Martha Day Jackson and aunt of Les Jackson. The Arays were African American pioneers who arrived in the Michigan Territory in 1827 and were successful farmers, business operators. The Arrays, along with other neighbors, were well-known and documented conductors on the Underground Railroad. (Photo by Chandra)