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RACINE – On Saturday, March 5, Scott Terry, along with fellow board members, announced the advent of the Mahogany Black Arts and Cultural Center, Inc. (MBACC) in Racine. The announcement was made from the temporary location of the museum and cultural center, Mahogany Gallery, 1422 Washington Ave.

Scott Terry, CEO of Mahogany Gallery, speaks about Racine’s documented history which largely excludes Black contributions, while simultaneously highlighting events such as Ku Klux Klan member presence in the city. – Credit: Racine County Eye

The need for such a facility was realized when a conversation took place regarding where someone could go to learn about the history of contributions from the Black community within Racine County. Terry said he could have heard a pin drop.

Terry realized the need was for more than a typical “Black history museum.” An Arts and Cultural Center is a vehicle to communicate the conditions of Black America throughout the years. Such a place would help others see and understand – from a creative, visual lens – what Black people have been through and how they interpreted those issues and conditions.

“We have some work to do to educate the community, educate our young people, and use that as a vehicle to eliminate that gap,” said Terry, who is also the CEO of Mahogany Gallery. “That is a problem that we have set out to solve with the Mahogany Black Arts and Cultural Center.”

Mahogany Black Arts and Cultural Center, Inc.

The MBACC is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization built through a grassroots initiative that began in 2021 with a mission of “the preservation, exhibition, and research of local black history of Racine County.”

The Center is not expected to be a typical museum, rather, Terry noted it will be “a living, breathing, functioning arm of the community as a whole; a place where you go to every day to build relationships, to learn, educate, enjoy yourself, and have fun.”

The Mahogany Gallery plans to reside, as a tenant, within the MBACC. Not only will it display contemporary art, but the museum will also contain notable exhibits as well as house artifacts from the historical Black community of Racine County.

Also proposed within the Center are a cafe/coffee shop, art programs, an Artist in Residence program, a live performance venue for music, spoken word and poetry, as well as a possible residential component with apartments or condos.

A Lofty Endeavor

Proposed building for Mahogany Black Arts and Cultural Center, Inc. – Credit: MBACC

The MBACC has set a fundraising goal of $500,000, a large portion of which will fund the acquisition and remodeling of a physical location for the center. Their first grant was received from Racine Community Foundation in the amount of $12,000 for the documentation and preservation of oral histories.

Terry spoke to the importance of supporting black-led institutions, especially historical and cultural centers. These places are able to curate the history and artwork of a culture that not only was the backbone of this nation’s industry and wealth but has largely been excluded from the history books as well.

Terry acknowledged the high price tag attached to the center’s completion, but stated, “that’s an investment that the community can make and it’s an investment that the community should make.”

Centers like the MBACC are the guardians of black history and culture. They tell our nation’s story and connect it to the present day and the present time.

Community Involvement

There are a few different ways people can support the MBACC. First, Terry stated the importance of sharing the information as widely as possible. Those who wish to be of service can share this and any other information regarding the MBACC with as many people as they can. Getting the word out into the community is crucial.

Call on local officials to support the MBACC. Advocating for support from elected officials such as the mayor, city council, county board members, etc., can go a long way.

Next, people are encouraged to give financially. Memberships to the MBACC are available on a monthly or yearly basis for students, individuals or families.

Monetary donations are also being accepted on every level, and contributions are tax-deductible.

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