African Holocaust Museums™
The Museum's History
In 1995, the African Holocaust Museum™ caught the attention of the New York Times. Creator and co-curator of the exhibit, Velma Maia Thomas, is quoted in that article. A representative from Random House Publisher, Inc. read the article and asked Ms. Thomas to write about the exhibit and the middle passage. The result was the award-winning book, Lest We Forget: The Passage from Africa to Slavery and Emancipation (1997, Crown Publishing, Random House, Inc.). With documents and images that one can remove, hold and feel, Lest We Forget brings history to life. Open the deck of a slave ship and see how captured Africans were stacked below. Hold in your hands precious freedom papers; remove a receipt for a woman sold into slavery. This tactile book, based on the African Holocaust Museum™, has become a national best seller with hundreds of new readers discovering it each year.
Lest We Forget and The African Holocaust Musuem™ created a national stir. The African Holocaust Museum™ was a feature at the 1996 and 1998 National Black Arts Festivals, where hundreds of thousands paid their respects to the ancestors for their sacrifices and courage. Ms. Thomas spoke on panels that addressed slave trade and the African Diaspora and was interviewed by National Public Radio, BCC, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution and more. From 1997 to 1998, the Exhibit traveled to universities and colleges in the Southeast. In the fall of 1998, The African Holocaust Musuem™ returned to the Shrine of the Black Madonna™ Bookstore and Cultural Center in Atlanta where it is on permanent display. The Shrine of the Black Madonna™ Bookstores and Cultural Centers in Houston and Detroit have developed similar exhibits, giving access to people from around the country to see, learn and experience our history.
Reverend Albert B. Cleage, founder and first holy patriarch of the Shrine of the Black Madonna™ Church, wrote of slavery’s impact on the minds and lives of enslaved Africans and subsequent generations. “The psychological damage to the African is beyond comprehension,” wrote Rev. Cleage. “Not only was the enslaved generation rendered psychologically ill, the effects have been culturally transmitted from generation to generation down to the present. A mentally sick generation cannot but hand its sickness down to its children. This is especially true of a slave experience which never ended.”
We invite you to visit the African Holocaust Musuem™ while in Atlanta or any of our cultural centers. For more information on tours, cost and hours contact the Shrine of the Black Madonna™ Cultural Center and Bookstores at (404) 752-6125 in Atlanta, (313) 491-0777 in Detroit or (713) 645-1071 Houston.
What visitors have said about the African Holocaust Musuem™:
- “I loved the Exhibit! I really learned a lot. I will come back to share the knowledge to all Black people” – student at Benjamin Mays High School – Atlanta
- “This is the second year I have brought my students from Albany, Georgia, up to see the Holocaust…We love it each year. Thank you for your effort to enlighten our children.”
- “I have never felt what I felt as I walked into this room. I felt pain, I felt suffering, I felt tears.”
- “I’ve studied the history of the African-American experience in college. I’ve done individual research. I have never felt what I feel today. In this room there is a gateway. There is a connection to the other side. I feel enriched. I feel empowered. I feel connected, and I will not forget.”
- “Radical exhibit. Revolutionary. Raw remembrances.”