(Oral History) Self Care 2020 with Dr. Redell Hearn

Dr. Redell Hearn meditating in the sun at 1,000 Figs restaurant

Background: In 2015, Bree Newsome Bass made national headlines when she scaled a 30-foot flag pole at the South Carolina statehouse and took down the Confederate flag. In an article entitled, “Charlottesville Reinforced That Self-Care Is an Essential Part of My Activism,” (SELF Magazine) Bass shares the importance of self-care stating, “I have a tendency to go, go, go until I burn out…self-care did not come naturally to me at first…since committing myself to social justice a few years ago, it’s something I’ve developed out of necessity.” VisitBlackHistory.com has invited participants to take part in an oral history project that will document the role of self-care in this day and time. We are specifically examining the individual impact of COVID-19, witnessing recent police brutality in the Black community, and the subsequent demonstrations that have followed.

(Full Oral History Interview) Self Care 2020 with Dr. Redell Hearn

42:43 Sophia V. Nelson: Absolutely. Well, my second to last question is, who is Dr. Redell Hearn?

42:52 DH: Whoo! [chuckle] Well, there’s two people in there. Let’s see, who is Dr. Redell? Dr. Redell Hearn is a museologist, with over 25 years’ experience in the museum field, from working in museums to teaching about museums, inside this country, all over this country, as well as abroad. That’s Dr. Redell Hearn, the thinker. Redell Hearn, the spiritual practitioner, is the creator of Soul-Sip, which is a class that blends the sacred and social elements of guided meditation and wine appreciation with the focus to help relax the mind, elevate the senses and savor the moment, and that’s really a metaphor for how Redell lives her life.

Row of houses along Bayou St. John
Folk art. Algiers Point, New Orleans, Louisiana

Black Museums and Cultural Producers Are Reimagining Outreach in a Time of Economic Uncertainty

By Ayanna Carrington and Sophia V. Nelson

In February, most of the country went into quarantine as a result of the pandemic. We quickly saw what a national shutdown did to our economy as it forced many brick and mortar businesses to close their doors and send their staff and employees home. From restaurants to malls, many businesses had to close without a definite end in sight.

Along with them, our museums and culture sites had to halt as well. We’ve watched from our homes as businesses started to struggle without a source of income due to halted foot traffic. No patrons, meant no source of income for a lot of venues and facilities, especially those that are Black owned. In June of this year, Fortune magazine released a piece by Rey Mashayekhi, “Why are Black-owned businesses twice as likely to close during the pandemic?” highlighting how the pandemic exacerbated systemic racism issues for businesses. The small bailout initiative rollout, showed a disproportionate amount of relief not going to Black businesses even in areas where it showed a high density of BB’s eligible to receive it.

A few weeks ago, it was announced that one of Georgia’s Black history museums, “Sights & Sounds Black Culture Expo Museum”  would be closing. Sights & Sounds, which found its home in North DeKalb Mall, became a landmark.

2017 VisitBlackHistory.com interview with James Horton of Sights & Sounds Black Cultural Expos Museum

Founded in 2014 by James Horton, Mr. Horton (a retired Morehouse employee) never had to charge admission and was solely able to operate the space as a result of donations. Now, in 2020 without the foot traffic and donors, the museum is looking for a new home to house its thousands of artifacts and relics.

The DuSable Museum of African American History, named after Jean Baptiste Point du Sable has shared that they are committed to reimagining how to serve its audience. Although admittedly used to operating on a “shoestring budget,” Perri Irmer, DuSable Museum President and CEO says, “the task of modernization is made more difficult by unequal funding of public institutions.”

“These huge disparities in funding are reflective of decades of unfair distribution of public resources, the effects of which are cumulative, in both directions,” Irmer said. “The rich get richer and the poor poorer, even as our work impacts a broader segment of the population, especially in our neighborhoods that are suffering so deeply on so many levels.” (Source: WBEZ, Chicago’s npr Newsource)

There is growth occurring within the field. Black History spaces, tourism offices, historians, and everyday people are producing digital content to stay connected with their audiences. Destination DC recently produced and published the Civil Rights DC Virtual Itinerary. Available for download at no cost, users are encouraged to spend 4-days taking in a curated list of digital DC Black History experiences. The virtual itinerary includes a list of digital experiences produced by places like George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the Frederick Douglass House, National Portrait Gallery, the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum just to name a few.

Other advancements include the movement to increase the amount of African-Americans working in Black History related careers. Just yesterday, a George Washington University professor admitted that she has been falsely claiming to be of African-American descent. According to a story published by The Guardian, George Washington University professor Jessica A. Krug received financial support from institutions like the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. This is revealed in a time when Black institutions, organizations, and professionals are fighting to get the resources needed to sustain careers in the history and public history sector. A response to this challenge are organizations like the Society of Black Archaeologists and the Greening Youth Foundation. Both organizations are committed to engaging underrepresented youth and emerging professionals, connecting participants with professional development opportunities in conservation, archaeology, and history-related professions.

Then we have stories like the Carver Museum in Austin, Texas which has entered the planning phase for expansion. A project that has been 22 years in the making moves forward with their planned additions to the Carver Museum in East Austin, Texas. The Washington Carver Museum, Cultural, and Genealogy Center serves as a repository for historical and cultural materials related to Austin, Texas, and Travis County’s African-American history. Planned additions to the museum include improvements to outdoor spaces as well as indoor art studio spaces and expanded community programming. This demonstrates that there are Black museums with the plan and to sustain and serve their publics.

While we are aware of the issues, we here at VisitBlackHistory.com are focused on current and long term solutions for how we can best support and in some cases save our Black History spaces? Black museums and historic sites are just a few of the Black institutions that have had to make a dramatic pivot in response to the pandemic. The financial ruin has presented itself concurrently at a time (alongside the public outcry against Police Brutality) when the roles of these cultural institutions are more essential than ever. We can’t allow them to disappear as they tell the story of our existence. So what should we do? Below you will find a few suggestions on how to support Black History spaces and content producers now:

  1. Attend online programming. Black History spaces and content producers are producing a wealth of online digital content. Send us an email, letting us know of the online programming you are participating in, so we can share that information with the VisitBlackHistory.com community.
  2. Become a friend of a museum. Your generous donation, some starting as low as $25, could also earn you special member benefits. See if your local Black History or art museum has membership and individual giving opportunities.
  3. If you are a community organizer, consider how your work may relate to the work being performed by organizations like the Society of Black Archaeologists. See if there is an opportunity to collaborate or even have representatives engage with your audience as a guest speaker. Collaborate and make magic happen!
  4. Volunteer. Even in the age of social distancing, there is still a need for volunteers. Volunteers should think of how they can support the production of digital experiences (blog writing, data entry, social media management, graphic design are a few ideas that come to mind).

How are you supporting Black History spaces? Share your story for a chance to win a VisitBlackHistory.com swag bag. Winning entries will have their testimony published. Be sure to include photos and videos along with your written response. Send to info@visitblackhistory.com.

Today’s Google Doodle: Cartoonist, Jackie Ormes

The work of cartoonist, Jackie Ormes

Jackie Ormes is today’s #googledoodle – an African American cartoonist, this clip from “One tenth of a nation. Achievements” highlights Jackie Ormes’s career.

One tenth of a nation. Achievements” video includes Eslanda of Eslanda’s Bridal Services (Washington, DC); Verna Hickman of Golden State Insurance Company (Los Angeles, CA); food editor for Ebony Magazine, Freda DeKnight, and others.

Charles County, Maryland’s Josiah Henson is one of many Recommended for the National Garden of American Heroes

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s response to ”Executive Order on Building and Rebuilding Monuments to American Heroes”

On July 3, 2020, the Trump administration issued the “Executive Order on Building and Rebuilding Monuments to American Heroes.” State Governors and county officials were asked to give recommendations for a park that will feature historically significant Americans. Breonna Taylor, Rosa Parks, and John Lewis are some of the names that have been recommended.

The Department of Interior has a public database in which you can view the recommendations submitted by your local and state representatives. (see link in bio).

Cover of ”In Search of Josiah Henson’s Birthplace: Archaeological Investigations at La Grange Near Port Tobacco, Maryland”

Pictured above is a report of archaeological findings performed at the birthplace of Josiah Henson. Born in Charles Country, Maryland, Josiah Henson was an abolitionist that escaped to freedom. Half brother of explorer, Matthew Henson. A distant relative of actress, Taraji P. Henson.

The archaeological study and report was prepared by St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Josiah Henson is one of the historical figures recommended by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

For more on this story, check out:

Executive Order on Monuments

State and local recommendations for American Heroes Monument

Garden of American Heroes by Amanda Jackson

“The Negro History Detective” and a 1929 Lincoln University Case

Philip Merrill “The Negro History Detective” of Nanny Jack & Co stands in front of Lincoln University campus signage

I want to make you aware of a longtime interpreter of African-American history, heritage, and culture, Philip Merrill. Born in 1962 in Baltimore, Maryland The History Makers describes Merrill as a historian, writer, appraiser, and collector.

Merrill and his company’s digital programming Executive Producer, Veronica Carr, caught my attention with the content they distributed on Facebook. I was intrigued by their light-hearted, clean, direct way of teaching Black History. I would soon find that their sensory way of storytelling was due in part to the Black artifact collection that Merrill has amassed throughout his career. Again, The History Makers highlights a significant part of his illustrious career, stating:

In 1994, Merrill founded the organization Nanny Jack & Company, an archives and consulting agency specializing in creating projects that illuminate the African American experience through memorabilia, oral history and research.

Walker, B. D. (2013, August 8). Historical Researcher: Philip Merrill. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.thehistorymakers.org/taxonomy/term/42070
“Visit Black History physically and digitally” – Philip Merrill. This video clip also includes an incident quite reminiscent of the Black Lives Matter movement of today. The incident occurred in 1929 with connections to Pennsylvania HBCU, Lincoln University.

During a time of mass social justice movements due to police brutality incidents across the U.S., Merrill “the Negro History Detective” seeks, finds, and then shares the correlations and differences between what has happened in the past versus what is happening today. Today, I encourage you to check out a recent story produced by Merrill’s Nanny Jack & Co. In an October 2019 episode of Artifactual Journey Executive Producer, Veronica Carr, sits down with Merrill to discuss a 1929 incident involving Lincoln University students. Just yesterday, the two filmed and published a supplement to the October 2019 podcast episode. “Black Lives Matter (raised fist emoji) 1929” can be found on Nanny Jack and Cos An Artifactual Journey with Philip Merrill Facebook page.

Have you viewed or listened to content produced by Philip Merrill a.k.a “The Negro History Detective” of Nanny Jack & Co.? Comment and tell us what you think.

Peace -Sophia V. Nelson

Negro Leaguer John Donaldson To Be Honored With a Statue and Baseball Field in His Name

John Donaldson


Statue, Field Dedication Puts New Spotlight On All-Time Great John Donaldson

This Great Black Baseball Player Still Isn’t in the Hall of Fame



On September 4, 2020 Glasgow, Missouri will unveil a statue and baseball field in honor of Negro Leagues player, John Donaldson. See links listed above for more on this story.