In honor of Black History Month, February 2002, the Washington D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center is hosting its biggest series of events ever. On Friday, February 1, the proposed core collection of the upcoming National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), will be unveiled publicly for the first time at the visitor’s center. For the weekend kickoff, special family history conferences and firesides will be held. The public is invited to participate.

The unique collection of African-American artifacts contains thousands of original images, newspapers and magazines from the mid-1700s forward which, to date, have not been catalogued or microfilmed but have been kept in private hands. They are great historical and genealogical records of the African-American experience. The collection includes original slave diaries, slave manifests and the journals of slave owners and slave masters–none of which has been made available to the public before.

The new museum has been features on the Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS Morning Show, Fox & Friends Morning Show, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

In conjunction with the Friends of the NMAAHC, the Church will microfilm these treasures on site at the Visitors’ Center in order to preserve them and to make them available to genealogists and historians around the world.

Among others on hand for opening day will be Frederick Douglas IV, James Henson, Sr., (the son of famed Arctic explorer, Matthew Henson, an African-American) and Darius Gray, the president of the Genesis Branch of the Church. Genesis is an officially recognized association of African-American members of the Church.

These free events will be held to celebrate the unveiling of the exhibit:

A DAYLONG AFRICAN-AMERICAN FAMILY HISTORY CONFERENCE, SATURDAY, FEB. 2ND
An all-day African-American Family History Conference on Saturday, February 2, 2002, from 10:00 am to 4:30 p.m. featuring Frederick Douglass, IV and prominent African-American genealogists from around the country.

AN EVENING OF MUSIC AND THE SPOKEN WORD WITH THE GENESIS GROUP, SATURDAY, FEB. 2ND AT 7 PM
A fireside (a meeting with music and the spoken word) and testimony meeting at 7:00 p.m. the same evening, Saturday, February 2, 2002 with Darius Gray, Allen Johnson and African-American Saints from around the United States, on the Genesis Group, the official association of black members of the Church.

A FIRESIDE ON AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN THE CHURCH, SUNDAY, FEB. 3RD AT 7 PM
A fireside on the history of African-Americans in the Church at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday evening, February 3, 2002 presented by Darius Gray and Margaret Young of Genesis, who have just completed a critically-acclaimed trilogy of books on the subject, entitled “Standing On The Promises.”

In addition, on opening day at 7 p.m., Frederick Douglass IV, the President of the Friends of the NMAAHC and his wife, B.J., will be featured in a presentation about Frederick Douglass. Frederick Douglass was a legendary speaker, writer, editor, statesman and abolitionist.

The Museum’s exhibition features 400 years of one-of-a-kind photographs, books, newspapers, letters, and documents. To date, private collectors have held these treasures. Some highlights include the following items:

  • Alex Haley’s original, 1964 journal–with his first notes for the legendary book, “Roots”;
  • An original letter from educator Carter G. Woodson, the founder of what has become Black History Month;
  • A signed, first-edition of the first book published by an African-American, Phillis Wheatley, in 1773;
  • A hand-written letter from Frederick Douglass on the death of abolitionist Sojourner Truth;
  • An original 1840 print depicting the famous mutiny aboard the Spanish slave ship, L’Amistad;
  • “Glory,°® an original 1890 Kurz & Allison print of the 54th Massachusetts (Colored) Regiment attacking Fort Wagner;
  • One of the first black newspapers, Frederick Douglass°| legendary “North Star”;
  • An original note from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while in jail in Alabama;
  • Alex Haley’s original manuscript and notes for “Roots”; and
  • An original letter from Malcolm X to Alex Haley.

The Visitors’ Center will also display a selection of artifacts from The Church Museum of Art and History in Salt Lake City. These include photographs, audio and video recordings, journals and letters of black members of the Church dating back to 1832.

The collection will be displayed from 10 a.m. through 9 p.m. each day through Sunday, March 31, 2002. The exhibition and all related events are free and are open to the public.