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Springfield's Pan African Historical Museum celebrates Black history at inaugural gala

Springfield's Pan African Historical Museum is ready to re-open after some renovations and organizers will host a gala this Saturday to honor local Black leaders and highlight some of the museum's programming.

Sam Bradley, the executive director of the museum, said many people are unaware of the significant role of the Black community in history, beyond slavery.

"We want to teach you about Africa, its people, and the greatest contributions that Black and brown people have made throughout this society," he said. "Our history doesn't start with slavery. It's been interrupted with slavery. And we wanted people to know more about their history than they do now."

Bradley said he's excited to bring back Underground Railroad walking tours to the city and events including movie nights featuring Black directors and actors to the renovated museum space in Tower Square.

Organizers said the inaugural gala will include a three-course meal, an art auction, the screening of a short documentary, live music and an Underground Railroad performance and more.

"It's going to be focused on art, culture and history," Bradley said.

He said there will also be awards presented to various Black leaders in the community including Amilcar Shabazz, a professor of African American educational history and public policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Janine and Tom Fondon, founders of UnityFirst, an online magazine focusing on the Black community, Rosemary Tracy Woods, who runs Art for the Soul Gallery in Springfield and others.

"We will be honoring these folks who do important work in the area of Black history and arts and culture and community," Bradley said.

The gala will be held Saturday at the Marriott in downtown Springfield and tickets are still available.

Elizabeth Román edits daily news stories at NEPM as managing editor. She is working to expand the diversity of sources in our news coverage and is also exploring ways to create more Spanish-language news content.
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