SMYRNA, Ga.- The story of Black America did not start in America. It started long before African slaves were forced upon this country’s shores. That’s the message the founder and executive director of the Before Slavery Museum, Pat Snipes, was trying to convey to those assembled at the tables near the stage at Taylor-Brawner Park Sunday night.

The Before Slavery -The Pride Inside – A Catalyst for Change charity dinner took place to both generate funding for the museum and to continue getting the word out about a project Snipes believes is a necessity. “ I want to being awareness about the new upcoming Bfore Slavery Museum,” she said. “There are a lot of things that plague our community and a lot of that comes from not knowing our history. We are trying to fill a void.” 

The museum will be at a yet unknown brick and mortar location in Cobb County but what Snipes knows for sure is that there are still plenty of funds still necessary if it is going to open in late 2021 or early 2022. There are museums and there is a Black history museum in Atlanta, but there is nothing like what the Before Slavery Museum will focus it works on. Taking the microphone following a brief introduction by local radio personality Twanda Black, the evening’s MC, Snipes told the crowd more about what the unique museum has in store for its guests upon opening. “It’s going to be an attraction where you can learn in a fun way,” she said. “When you come to the museum it’s going to be full of a lot of different elements.”

A video introduced one of the coming attractions, greater and museum guide Zacchariah. There will also be exhibits on the many tribes of African nations from which Black America came.

For Black, who hosts the Good News Gospel show every Sunday morning on KISS 104.1 FM, the museum will be a welcoming sight.

“It is so necessary because a lot of people think Black people just woke up in America in chains,” she said. “I’m praying that this [museum] will have a global reach.”

The Uhuru Dancers, a trio of African dance performers, were accompanied by a trio of drummers that got the crowd warmed up prior to their taking the stage. On a cool night the dancers’ energy was transformative as they performed barefoot in beautifully colored traditional outfits.

Following their performance, Jazz trumpeter Milkshake Mayfield played a few songs from his and the Milkshake Jazz Quintet’s current album. Earlier in the evening he serenaded a few small children playing on the nearby playground with the familiar Flintstones theme song.

Mayfield, who said he was happy to be performing outdoors again, added about the similarities between Black history and Jazz music. “Jazz is our culture and that’s what I do,” he said. “It goes right along with the theme of the evening.” 

There was an auction for an autographed baseball card and baseball by former Major League Baseball standout Marvin Freeman. “Black Butterfly, a book of poetry by young people from all over the world, were also sold for $9 with some of the funds going towards the museum.

There is still much more work to do before the doors of the Before Slavery Museum open but Snipes remains positive it will happen. “The things that we are doing tonight will help us build the museum,” she said. “Black people were taken from their homes but still continued to grow, invent and change the world.”

(The Uhuru Dancers, an African dance trio, performed for the crowd during the charity dinner Sunday in Smyrna. Photo Credit: Donnell Suggs/The Atlanta Voice )

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Donnell began his career covering sports and news in Atlanta nearly two decades ago. Since then he has written for Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Southern Cross...