Thanks to Heather Muir Kirby ’77, Vice Chair of the Madeira Board of Directors, and Jim Johnson, long time Madeira supporter and founding member of the Council of The National Museum of African American History and Culture, our entire community—students, faculty, parents, alumnae, and friends—was treated to a wondrous private visit to the nations’ newest museum.
Each individual reacted in her/his own way to the historic portrayal of the darkness and sadness that slavery represents, and then to the celebration of African American culture in our modern day. I found references to the province of Esmeraldas, in northwestern Ecuador, where freed slaves established a community that exists to this day. I recognized names associated with the Spanish conquest and that are carried by families that I know and grew up with. As I absorbed this history and thought of how long we have come from those days, I also realized how much longer we need to go to ensure we have an equitable and just world.
Many of my fellow visitors may have focused more on the top floors, on the hope, the joy and the celebration of African American culture that they represent. Iconic figures, music, games, creative composition, and current events that have also been part of our world at Madeira balances history with the present to lay a strong foundation for an optimistic future.
On behalf of the entire Madeira community, we express our deepest gratitude to Heather and Jim. What a night at the museum we all enjoyed together!
Pilar Cabeza de Vaca
Head of School