The AACHM was established by 23 founding members in 1993 to document, collect, preserve and share African American History in Washtenaw County.
On February 6, 1993, Dr. Margaret Burroughs, a co-founder of the DuSable Museum in Chicago, was the guest speaker at the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Delta Psi Omega Chapter Founders Day. She challenged everyone in the room to document and preserve the history of the African American community of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and surrounding areas. Several people signed up to form a museum and from that list, the first full organizational meeting was held at Weatherstone Clubhouse on March 13, 1993. Dr. Charles Wright, founder of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit visited Ann Arbor and helped us with our initial planning. By 1996 we received 501(c)(3) status and rented our first office space at New Center on Main Street. In 1997, The Mosaic Foundation extended a $10,000 challenge grant to the museum for strategic planning and development. The matching funds were raised from within the committed and all volunteer board of directors and founders.
The AACHM was a key partner in extensive research on nineteenth-century antislavery activism and African American community life with the University of Michigan Arts of Citizenship Program in 1999. The research was the foundation for the AACHM’s Journey to Freedom; an Underground Railroad Guided Bus Tour of Washtenaw County. Journey to Freedom, was accepted as an official member in the US Dept. of Interior, National Park Service, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program in 2004. The research also produced an exhibit Midnight Journey, that tells the story of the UGRR in Michigan. It was recently on display at Grand Valley State University for the annual Michigan Freedom Trail Commission Conference.
In 2005 we moved our administrative offices from New Center to the David R. Byrd Center at 3261 Lohr Road in Ann Arbor. This is an 1830s farmhouse restored by the late African American architect David R. Byrd. He also built the chapel that is on the adjacent property. We are currently housed in the Byrd Center.
To research, collect, preserve and exhibit cultural and historical materials about the life and work of African Americans in Washtenaw County. Click on the Timeline to the left and read about the programs, tours, exhibits and collaborations the AACHM has been part of over the years.