In 1984, the eyes of the world were upon the Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles and the California African American Museum christened its new building with the Black
exhibition. Surrounded by trees and sky and feats of grandeur, it was a joyous occasion made
possible by great leaders who had the vision, fortitude, political will, and the unrelenting tenacity
to build us our own physical institution. Now, with 2014, the countdown to our building’s 30th
anniversary begins as we continue to honor the legacy entrusted to us to use this Museum facility to
enrich the public with the art, history and culture of African Americans. This is the place where the
voices of African Americans can always be heard. It is where your eternal dreams are stored, lessons
learned are relived, and where our collective triumphs will be forever remembered.
Sustaining CAAM for the next 30 years is a responsibility we take very seriously, and it is why
we ask you to contribute in 2014. Invest in CAAM today as you would your personal home and know
that your donation is more valuable than a 30-year mortgage. It is a down-payment on the present and an investment in the future. Become a member, send a donation, contribute to the collection, donate online, or set up a payment plan so you can give consistently throughout the year. Stretch your charity so that in 2014 CAAM can do even more than we’ve done in the past.
In 2013, CAAM proudly presented 11 ambitious exhibits – from illuminating our historic role in
the Civil War to the March on Washington. We reached out globally inspired by Cuban artist Manuel
Mendive, introduced visitors to the massive Kelly Collection of prints, and gave contemporary voice
to the artists of Shared Thread and Diverted Destruction 6. History is still on view in the Golden
State Mutual Life Insurance Company, and one of our newest exhibits, Soul Stirring, has garnered
important attention with reviews by Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight and KCRW art
critic Edward Goldman. It was also selected as a “must-see-pick” by The Hollywood Reporter, and
secured a cover story in Downtown News. Meanwhile, two exhibitions, Mendive and Dance Theatre of
Harlem, are touring the U.S., while two smaller exhibits are on view in Pasadena and Carson.
Our beloved year-round Young Docent program continues to provide content, service learning and employment opportunities for high school students. Just as we did last May, we will again promote children’s literacy during our annual Heads Are Turning, Children Are Learning program. You can also expect us to continue hosting nearly 80 public programs and events, including our ever-popular, free monthly Target Sundays at CAAM live performances and artist-led, hands-on workshops.
In December, we honored our volunteer councils; collected canned goods to support the LA Regional Food Bank; and partnered with KABC-TV’s Spark of Love campaign and the L.A. Fire Department for a Day of Learning at Expo Park venues. We even made a point of helping our community access health insurance through Covered California. We operate to give back to the community every day, but it takes money to produce all the free events and programs that are so appreciated and so clearly enjoyed by our diverse audiences.
Figuratively speaking, I would like to think that – in addition to the 23,000 genes mapped on the human genome - we might have an extra gene passed down to us by our ancestors and embedded in our spirit enabling us to survive despite the challenges. We instinctively call upon our ubunifu (Swahili for “creativity”) to make the most out of nothing. We can take the refuse carelessly thrown away by others, and overlay it with our own genius to create something new and meaningful. In our newest exhibition, A Memoir in Movement: Carmen de Lavallade & Geoffrey Holder, you can hear Mr. Holder espouse just such a life philosophy: “Don’t complain, get creative, make something wonderful out of it!”
Donate now to help propel CAAM past wonderful. We know how to do more with less; but it would be so much better to do more with more.
Visit us often, tell a friend, and enjoy this great New Year!