The University Record, September 7, 1999

Grant funds town/gown collaboration

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

A $5,000 grant from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation will partially fund a joint effort of the Arts of Citizenship Program (AoC) and the Washtenaw County African American Cultural and Historical Museum. Under the grant, other community historians will join the collaboration to research and publicly present the history of the Underground Railroad in the Washtenaw County area.

AoC and the museum will launch a three-stage project led by U-M faculty and students in the program, with assistance from museum representatives.

Depending on the materials uncovered by the researchers, the research may culminate in exhibitions, additions to school curricula and the development of a bus tour of the pertinent sites in the county. Tours, hosted by the Museum with possible support from the Arts of Citizenship program, will be developed to fit the needs of schools, tourists and local community groups.

“We envision doing the research this academic year,” says David Scobey, director of the Arts of Citizenship Program. “We don’t know yet what form the presentation of the research will take when completed, but both the Arts of Citizenship and the Museum are eager to get the results out to the public.”

Vivian D. Lyte, a museum board member, notes, “As yet the Washtenaw County African American Cultural and Historical Museum does not have a permanent location, but the museum does maintain an office in Ann Arbor.”

The museum has worked with the University Musical Society and the Ann Arbor Public Library, to organize art exhibits and programs, including the Harlem Nutcracker, the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival and Washtenaw Community College.

As a partner in Imagining America, a national program sponsored by the White House Millennium Council, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation awarded grants to seven universities to support projects by campus-based artists and humanists working in collaboration with community leaders. The grants are intended to recognize examples of public scholarship that address an issue of cultural or social significance at the local, regional or national level.