COMMISSION ON AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY & CULTURE

ORIGIN & FUNCTIONS


The Commission on African-American History and Culture originated as the Maryland Commission on Negro History and Culture formed by the General Assembly in 1969 (Chapter 435, Acts of 1969). That commission, in 1971, was assigned to Morgan State College by Executive Order. Under the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Commission was renamed in 1974 as the Commission on Afro-American and Indian History and Culture (Chapter 386, Acts of 1974), and as the Commission on Afro-American History and Culture in 1976 (Chapter 120, Acts of 1976). As part of the Division of Cultural Activities, the Commission joined the Department of Housing and Community Development in 1987 (Chapter 311, Acts of 1987). In 1988, the Commission was placed under the Division of Historical and Cultural Programs within the Department. In 1992, the Commission was redesignated as the Commission on African-American History and Culture (Chapter 290, Acts of 1992). Formerly under the Division's Office of Cultural and Educational Services, the Commission became part of the Office of Research, Survey, and Registration in 1992. In September 1995, the Commission moved to the Office of Museum Services, and in October 2005 transferred from the Department of Housing and Community Development to the Department of Planning. In July 2008, it moved to the Governor's Office of Community Initiatives (Chapter 521, Acts of 2008). The Commission was established as an independent agency within the Executive Branch in July 2022 (Chapter 451, Acts of 2022).

The Commission serves as the statewide clearinghouse for preserving evidence of and documenting the African-American experience in Maryland. It specializes in research assistance and collection of historical materials - art objects, memorabilia, manuscripts, photographs, and other articles of significance to African-American history and culture. For the community at large and the educational systems and institutions within the State, the Commission provides exhibits, programs, and resource materials.

Twenty-one members constitute the Commission. They are appointed to four-year terms by the Governor with Senate advice and consent. From among its members, the Commission selects the Chair and Vice-Chair annually. Subject to the approval of the Governor, the Commission appoints the Director (Chapter 162, Acts of 2011; Code State Government Article, secs. 9.5-401 through 9.5-408).

Under the Commission is the Banneker-Douglas Museum of African-American History and Culture.


[photo, Banneker-Douglass Museum, Franklin St., Annapolis, Maryland] BANNEKER - DOUGLASS MUSEUM OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY & CULTURE
Old Mount Moriah African Methodist Episcopal Church, 84 Franklin St., Annapolis, MD 21401

The Banneker-Douglass Museum of African-American Life and History was dedicated and opened to the public on February 24, 1984. It was renamed the Banneker-Douglass Museum of African-American History and Culture in 1993, and named for Benjamin Banneker, the first African-American mathematician and astronomer, and Frederick Douglass, the first African American to gain international prominence as a proponent of human rights.

Banneker-Douglass Museum, 84 Franklin St., Annapolis, Maryland, July 2000. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


In the heart of Annapolis, the Museum is both an exhibit facility and a research center for studies in African-American history and culture.

The Museum is housed in the former Mt. Moriah African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was included in the Annapolis Historic District in 1971, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

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