Dr. E.B. Palmer presents roses to playwright Ann Hunt Smith while cast of The Amistad Saga looks on. Photo courtesy AACC
African American Cultural Complex
Raleigh, North Carolina, is home to the African
American Cultural Complex (AACC), founded by Dr. E.B. Palmer and
his wife, Juanita, as a museum and educational center dedicated to
exploring and honoring African-American history. The museum, which
doubles as the Palmers' home, is filled with their collection of
Black Americana, and their three-acre backyard is dedicated to
three cottages filled with exhibits, an outdoor stage, a small
amphitheater, and nature trails. Forty thousand visitors a year
come to view the exhibits and, in the summer of 1999, thousands
viewed the production of the play,
The Amistad Saga:
Reflections, moved into reality by the vision and driving
force of the Palmers.
The Palmers, both educators, had become aware that
the standard school curriculum did not cover African-American
history in any depth, only briefly mentioning Booker T. Washington
and Sojourner Truth. Dr. E.B. Palmer developed guidelines for
integrating more black history into the standard texts. In his
research, he discovered that African-American artifacts and relics
were almost non-existent in regional museums, so he began
collecting such items and identifying everyday inventions that were
created by blacks.
During his research in 1993, Dr. Palmer stumbled upon
the story of the
Amistad, an event not well known at the
time, the story of a rebellion of illegally enslaved Africans off
the coast of Cuba in 1839. He realized the story's ramifications
for the American judicial system and for the history of North
Amistad incident had prompted the founding
of the American Missionary Association, an organization that raised
money for legal trials for blacks. Believing that the story of the
Amistad needed to be told, the Palmers determined to bring
the story to life through a theatrical production at the AACC.
Several grants from the Community Foundation funded the writing of
the play by playwright Ann Hunt Smith, and the hiring of a
composer, director, artists, musicians and choreographers to mount
the production. The play came to fruition in the Palmers' backyard
in the summer of 1999, with 63 cast members, and audiences that
numbered into the hundreds each night.
Originally submitted by: John Edwards, Senator.
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.