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Fat Albert, Maggie Walker and Mama J's.

"Hey, hey, hey! It's Faaat Albert! And I'm gonna sing a song for you. And we're gonna show you a thing or two. We'll have some fun now, me and all the gang. Learning from each other, while we do our thing. Nah, nah, nah, Gonna have a good time.

Hey, hey, hey!"

As a child growing up in the 70's, watching Fat Albert and his gang on Saturday mornings was a ritual. Thus, I was intrigued when I read about an exhibit at the Black History Museum in Richmond called "Funky turns 40."

Per the Black History Museum (BHM) website: "This special exhibition commemorates the 40th anniversaries of 1970’s Saturday Morning cartoons that featured positive Black characters for the first time in television history. The exhibition includes original production cels and drawings used to produce these cartoons. Also included are images from the animated opening to Soul Train and two of the few Black cast/Black focused animated features that have been produced since the 1970′s, BeBe’s Kids (1992) and Our Friend Martin (1999). FUNKY TURNS 40 includes 60 pieces of animation art from the Museum Of UnCut Funk collection, one of the world’s most unique and extensive collections of original animation production cels and drawings from 1970‘s. FUNKY TURNS 40 was organized by the Museum of UnCut Funk and is curated by Pamela Thomas, Curator of the Museum. The exhibition has received strong national and local press coverage, including a New York Times article that appeared on the front page of their Arts section and online."

"Hey, hey, hey!" That sounded like a cool Wandering Wednesday opportunity to me....

Located in Jackson Ward, the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia is a repository of visual, oral, and written artifacts commemorating the lives and accomplishments of blacks in Virginia. Baskervill, along with Madge Bemiss Architects, led the design efforts to move the museum to its new home in the spring of 2016 at the historic Leigh Street Armory. (Well done, Burt Pinnock!)

As we are a creative family, the kids and I really enjoyed seeing the process for cel animation. And touring this exhibit, along with many of the wonderful and poignant black history exhibits in the rest of the museum was a wonderful educational experience.

From the BHM, we headed to the Maggie Walker National Historic Site for a fascinating guided tour of her home by a U.S. Park Service ranger.

Walker was the first female bank president of any race to charter a bank in the United States. As a leader, she achieved successes with the vision to make tangible improvements in the way of life for African Americans and women. Disabled by paralysis and limited to a wheelchair later in life, Walker also became an example for people with disabilities.

"Maggie L. Walker (1864-1934), was a civil rights activist and trailblazing entrepreneur. The beloved African American community leader devoted her life to defeating racism, sexism, and economic oppression. Mrs. Walker chartered a bank, a newspaper, and a store 17 years before American women had the right to vote, and fostered black entrepreneurialism when Jim Crow laws threatened African American progress. From 1905 until her death in 1934, Walker’s “urban mansion” in Richmond, Virginia served as a social hub and family sanctuary to four generations. This exhibit provides an intimate view of Mrs. Walker’s personal and professional life, her home, belongings, and writings, as well as her formidable energy and devotion to family and the economic empowerment of African Americans." (Excerpt from From the National Park Service website.)

Our last stop: Mama J's! We have heard for years that this Southern/Soul food restaurant was fabulous and were excited to try it out! Our friendly and helpful waitress steered us toward fried catfish, fried chicken, sweet potato fries, homemade coleslaw and peach cobbler and they did not disappoint!

On a final note... given the violent events around our nation this summer towards African Americans and the police, this day was filled with open and thoughtful conversation with the kids about treating ALL people with respect and dignity.... And this is why we WANDER.



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