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Fri, 09.30.1977

The California African American Museum Is Founded

C.A.A.M. Bulding and Logo

On this date, we celebrate the founding of the California African American Museum (CAAM) in 1977.

Chartered by the State of California, the CAAM is governed by a seven-member board of directors appointed by the governor and two ex-officio positions held by the state legislators representing the 48th Assembly District and the 25th Senatorial District.

The museum opened in temporary quarters at the California Museum of Science and Industry in 1981. The current museum facility in Exposition Park of Los Angeles was built with a grouping of state and private funds and opened to the public in July 1984 during the Olympic games. The building was designed by Black architects Jack Haywood and the late Vincent Proby.

Some of the many fine exhibitions and programs featured at the CAAM include exhibits of The Black Olympians; Black Angelenos: The Afro American in Los Angeles, 1850-1950; and Rhythms of the Soul: African Instruments in the Diaspora, as well as the John Outterbridge retrospective, an emerging artists program, and an artist in residency program. Their exhibitions have dealt with the past and issues as contemporary as the Rodney King beating.

Traveling shows also have been presented, including Three Generations of African American Women Sculptors: A Study in Paradox; Elizabeth Catlett Sculpture: A Fifty-Year Retrospective; Half Past Autumn, the Gordon Parks retrospective; Hair in African Art and Culture, and much more.

The CAAM exhibits and programs tell stories that are still being discovered and preserved, an energetic narrative that celebrates African Americans' contributions to society. The exhibits range from artifacts from various African cultures to Allensworth, black contributions to motorcycle culture. Permanent exhibits include "African American Journey West" and photographs of outstanding black contributors to American politics and culture, such as Ella Fitzgerald and Tom Bradley.

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