“The Tubman Museum is the museum of African-American art, history and culture, but this is the country’s history; it’s everybody’s history,” said Melanie Byas, the museum’s director of marketing and digital strategies. “And we hope everyone recognizes that and comes to celebrate, because we’ll have lots of fun things going on this weekend.”
Friday night’s black-tie banquet will honor Chi Ezekwueche, founder of the Pan African Festival and All That Jazz, two of the museum’s largest annual fundraisers. This catered event will include live music, dancing and a chance to learn more about the festival’s history.
Saturday features a marketplace in Cherry Street Plaza with art, crafts, performances, international cuisine — American, Caribbean, Greek and Asian dishes — and evening concerts by the funk and jazz band Brick and funk band Lakeside.
Sunday musical entertainment includes the gospel sounds of the 150-voice Pan African Festival Mass Choir and this year’s headliner: Grammy Award-winning R&B, gospel and jazz singer-songwriter Regina Belle.
Visitors can access the museum, the largest of it’s type in the country, for a discounted price of $5 on both days. This admission can also go toward an annual museum membership.
Inside the museum is a short film festival of four films that highlight notable people in African-American history: “Heroes of Freedom” is about Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks; “The Boy King” is about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; “Running a Thousand Miles to Freedom” tells the story of William and Ellen Craft, who were born into slavery in Middle Georgia before escaping to Boston in 1848; and animated film “Inspiring Animated Heroes: Harriet Tubman.”
Also Saturday, children ages 3 to 10 can gather for interactive stories and poems with Sundrella the Storytella at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. For even more hands-on experience, children and adults can join Brother Kwame Lynch for his djembe drum workshop at noon.
The museum is currently exhibiting “Living in Color,” a collection of vibrant Haitian art dating back to the 1940s, and “Envisioning Emancipation,” a photographic documentation of slavery, emancipation and freedom in the United States from the 1850s through the 1930s.
“One of the big foundations of the museum is to be a primary source for experiences in the community that enrich cultural understanding,” museum curator Jeff Bruce said. “We are trying to get to a point where we aren’t just comfortable with our diversity, but we celebrate our diversity. We see it as our strength.”
Tickets for a raffle, the black-tie awards event and museum admission are available for purchase at the museum or by calling 478-743-8544.
“It’s a big fundraiser for the museum and a big draw for the community to celebrate our diversity here in Macon,” Byas said. “We really have a big offering for everybody in our community, and the Pan African Festival is a hallmark of that tradition.”