Maryland’s Howard Co. African American culture center reopens after 3 years

After being closed for three years, Maryland’s Howard County Center of African American Culture has reopened with new exhibits featuring a collection of art and artifacts, along with historical accounts of the county, the state and Africa.

From the COVID-19 pandemic to a flood at the facility, the center has dealt with a few setbacks in recent years, but aims continue its mission to educate the community about the county’s Black History.

“In a sense, COVID and the flood gave us a chance to take the time to regroup and really forge a new vision,” said Nathaniel “Nat” Alston, executive director of the Howard County Center of African American Culture.

A vision that includes themed exhibits that guide visitors through the new and improved space. One theme focuses on Africa and its connection to Black Americans in Howard County.

“When people walk in here, they can feel a sense of home, a sense of connection, a sense of ‘this is where it all began,’” Alston said. “We are from the Mother Continent of kings and queens.”

Another exhibit highlights citizenship, civil rights and the struggle for human rights. While detailing the African American experience in the county during their struggles for freedom, the museum also puts a spotlight on trailblazers, who are firsts to hold leadership roles in their respective industries.

“We hope that when people see this, they can see themselves there. And the fact that these people are still alive … hopefully it will inspire our students and young people,” Alston said.

The center held a soft opening on Tuesday, Feb. 15, and Tina Narr was among the group that got a sneak peek of the refurbished cultural center. Before her visit, she spent weeks attending lectures on African American history and culture in Howard County.

“I really think that the way it’s been curated into themes and rooms is very helpful and, you know, kind of leads you through a history of African Americans in this place. So it’s very nice,” Narr said.

The center, located in Columbia, will hold a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, Feb. 28, to close out Black History Month.

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