Arts/Culture
5:38 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

African American history and culture in southwest Michigan

According to 2010 U.S. Census data, Holland, Michigan’s black population experienced a 20 percent growth in the last decade.

This week a new Center for African American Art and History opened in Holland, Michigan. 

Ruth Coleman is the center's director. She always wanted to see her African American culture representing in her community. 

Coleman hopes people in the Holland area come to the center to learn more about black culture.

And she says, "I'd like to see our youth become acclimated to their history, know who they are and  to feel more welcomed in the community, feel like they have a place in the community."

"My daughter, who grew up in the Holland area...said to me, mom I knew who George Washington was when I was in Kindergarten but I didn't know who George Washington Carver was until I was in college," says Coleman.

She hopes by opening the center she can help brake down "racial barriers that are subliminal in our community."

Among the exhibits are a rendition of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and art work depicting the journey of slaves from the west coast of Africa to North America, often referred to as the Middle Passage. Other exhibits will cycle throughout the year.