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MISSION: To collect, preserve, interpret and celebrate the Commonwealth's African American history, culture and community from the early 1600s to the present, and to inform and educate the public about African American contributions and achievements in business, politics, religion, civic organizations and the Arts.
Welcome to the Virginia African American Cultural Center, Inc.'s 1st Quarterly Newsletter! We are excited about our launch and pleased to bring you along on this multifaceted, intercultural, interactive, and historical experience. Our goal is to serve as a hub for cultural celebration, educational enhancement, inclusiveness and empowerment relating to our social and family values and inform others and our youth about our historical impact in the Hampton Roads region.
The newsletter will create content that shares the latest relevant news, updates, historic milestones as well as recent accomplishments of our leaders, artists, inventors, storytellers, and keepers of our cultural wisdom in Virginia. The 1st African American Cultural Center will propose to tell the story of African Americans in Virginia, and the Hampton Roads region.
Our vision is to be a statewide hub for curated arts and artistic performances on a 4.83 acres site donated by the City of Virginia Beach as a Deed of Gift, forming a public/private partnership. Our programs throughout the communities earned the emerging Center a Proclamation for the City’s 2019 African American Heritage Month.
In celebration of a year with multiple achievements, we highlight a few programs and invite you to visit our website at www.aaccvb.org for additional posted events.
Unveiling Ceremony of Portraits from a Place of Grace: Mar.16, 2019
VAACC unveiled an exciting new immersive public art installation, Portraits from a Place of Grace, on the grounds of the future home of the VAACC which also included a portrait of one of your members. VAACC spent the last year working with celebrated artist Richard Hollant from Connecticut, on a series of large-scale portraits and interviews with members of Virginia Beach’s 14 historically African American neighborhoods. The installation embraces each visitor with faces and stories of our communities’ history. Participants were selected by community leaders from each neighborhood who are featured in the 18 large-scale portraits with downloadable audio interviews. All participant portraits and interviews are chronicled on a dedicated website forever celebrating our story. The dedication included distinguished speakers from the community, Mayor of Virginia Beach Bobby Dyer, and other City officials as well as the commissioned artist.
An Evening with Frederick Douglass: Mar. 29, 2019
Pictured (left to right): Becky Livas; Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond; Actor, Nathan Richardson; and Bruce Williams.
VAACC presented “An Evening with Frederick Douglass”. The event was funded in part by a grant from the City of Virginia Beach Arts and Humanities Commission and in part with the Zeiders American Dream Theater to a sold-out audience. Nationally recognized author and poet, Nathan Richardson, gave an excellent performance and reenactment of Frederick Douglass’ speeches and a glimpse into his world portraying a man with strong personality and character. Zeiders’ stage technicians infused a digital background that placed the audience in his living room. Richardson fascinated the intergenerational audience as we learned about Douglass’ struggle for freedom, and achievement becoming an elected official during his lifetime. The center also reserved tickets for students from underserved neighborhoods and their parents.
Frederick Douglass (played by actor Nathan Richardson) interacts with youth from the audience.
Giving Back to the Community
Community Fall Festival: October 5, 2019
VAACC hosted its inaugural Community Fall Festival to celebrate on the land which was officially “Gifted” by the City of Virginia Beach to our communities. Even though we have not broken ground, we felt it was important to give back to these historic neighborhoods by hosting a family-friendly outing showcasing talented artists, musician’s storytellers, African arts and crafts, informational and local vendors, food trucks as well as organized children activities, all free and open to the public.
With a small operating budget of $1000 as well as contributions from local businesses, local and regional candidates, corporate sponsors, and civic and faith-based community volunteers, and co-sponsorship by the City, we welcomed over 500 from as far as Richmond and it was a great success!
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Impacting Lives Breakfast: Oct 26, 2019
Founder and Chair Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond was honored by the New Journal and Guide Newspaper "Impacting Lives Breakfast” for work in the community.
Aretha Franklin Remembered
WHRO TV Pledge Drive: Dec. 10, 2019
Pictured (left to right): Helen Williams, Beth Miller, Cheryl Davidson, Terry Calhoun, Wayne Jones and Shanti Mullen
Board members of VAACC and several of their community volunteers spent a wonderful evening serving as telemarketers for the WHRO TV Pledge Drive featuring the "Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin Remembered. Co-host Barbara Hamm briefly interviewed Founder and Chairman, Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond. We hummed and toe tapped to the powerful vocal melodies, rhythm and messages belted out on the video by the Queen of Soul in between fielding calls from the donors. Mesmerized by Aretha, a few of us lovingly struck a pose in R-E-S-P-E-C-T of her memory!
Save the Date! For One Night Only
In partnership with the Zeiders American Dream Theater, VAACC is hosting "Crossing That River: Untold Story of the Black West" Musical on February 8, 2020. Cross That River represents a significant moment in American History, and tells a story that’s never been told.
The unsettled West of the 1860s provides a new life and new dreams for Blue, a run-away slave, who escapes from slavery to Texas to become one of America’s first Black Cowboys. This compelling tale of freedom integrates fiction with historical fact, and each song presents a different page in this complicated chapter of American History.
Award-winning musician, Allan Harris wrote Cross That River to tell the untold story of the Black West and empower Americans with an inspiring story of hope and freedom.
Purchase tickets at the VAACC website - www.aaccvb.org.
A percentage of the proceeds will go towards the Cultural Center Building Fund.
PLEASE CONSIDER AN END-OF-YEAR GIVING!
MAKE A PLEDGE TO OUR BUILDING FUND.
*VAACC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Your contribution is tax-deductible.
CLICK HERE TO DONATE
Conceptual rendering of building by Hanbury.
Since our inception VAACC has reached thousands through our interactive programs, artwork, co-partnerships, forums, lectures, social media, outreach activities and volunteerism.
The Center will be sustained with an appropriate & achievable mix of earned and contributed income. We believe the Center is a project worthy of your support. VAACC is keeping the city engaged with African American programming even before we have a building. We look forward to seeing you at our events.
A special appreciation to the City of Virginia Beach, the Department of Cultural Affairs, VB Arts and Humanities Commission, and our local sponsors.
We wish you a wonderful season, filled with the sights and sounds of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and a joyous New Year!
Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond
Founder and Chairman
Virginia African American Cultural Center, Inc.