*Alexandria, VA — In the final days of 2015, Alfred Street Baptist Church (ASBC), one of the nation’s oldest historically African American churches located in Alexandria, Virginia announced that it is pledging to donate $1 million to the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).
As such, the $1 million donation to the museum is the largest from a faith-based organization to date, thus allowing the church to be designated as a founding donor of the museum.
Scheduled to open in the fall of 2016 on the National Mall in Washington, DC adjacent to the Washington Monument, the museum will be a place where visitors can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to the lives of the American people, and how it helped shape this nation.
Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, the esteemed pastor of Alfred Street Baptist Church said:
“We are very proud and honored to make this contribution to a museum that promises to contribute immensely to the knowledge base of African American history and culture.
This historic attraction will be an astounding and visionary force in our communities and lives for decades to come. More importantly, we as a church, understand the importance of learning about the accomplishments of African American people. Therefore, we realize that if we don’t tell and preserve our own history, our children will never know their real value.”
Accepting the donation on behalf of the Smithsonian’s NMAAHC was, Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the museum, who said, “We are honored to have the support of Alfred Street Baptist Church, an institution that has generously served its community for more than 200 years and whose support will help ensure that the museum fulfills its mission to tell the American story through an African American lens.”
James McNeil, chairman of the Board of Trustees of Alfred Street Baptist Church, continued:
“We are pleased to be the first faith-based organization to contribute $1 million to this magnificent cultural development. I challenge others in the faith-based community to follow suit to ensure that the history of African Americans will be celebrated and shared with everyone regardless of their background. The story of our country’s greatness cannot be told without sharing how we live and work together to help America thrive.”
Several members of ASBC have also individually supported the museum as founding donors: Earl W. and Amanda Stafford, donated $2 million in support of the museum’s Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts; James L. and Juliette McNeil, gave $1 million; Craig and Diane Welburn, $1 million; Margaret Pemberton, $300,000; Donna L. Scott, $25,000; and Janet Sledge $25,000.
“Alfred Street Baptist Church is an important part of African American history. We celebrated our 212th anniversary in November, and we understand the important role that black churches have always played in the black experience,” said Patricia Johnson, chairman of the Alfred Street Baptist Church Deacon Board. “Our donation represents our commitment to helping to ensure the preservation of the knowledge base of African American history.”
About Alfred Street Baptist Church
Established in 1803, Alfred Street Baptist Church is home to the oldest and largest African American congregation in Alexandria, Va. With nearly 7,000 members, the church has served as a prominent religious, educational and cultural organization in the Northern Virginia community. The church celebrated its 212th anniversary on Sunday, November 15, 2015 under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley. For more information, visit www.AlfredStreet.org
About the Museum
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture broke ground in February 2012 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The 400,000-square-foot building is being built on a five-acre tract adjacent to the Washington Monument at a cost of $540 million.
While construction is moving forward, the museum is hosting public programs, organizing traveling exhibitions and producing books and recordings. Its eighth exhibition, “Through the African American Lens: Selections from the Permanent Collection,” is on view in the museum’s temporary gallery at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. For more information, visit http://nmaahc.si.edu.