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Announcement: Landmark Bills Increase State Funding 

Expanding Banneker-Douglass Museum Operations & African American Preservation Grant 

MD Commission on African American History and Culture at Bill Signing
The Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture at the signing of Bill HB 1048 marking a new day in Maryland African American heritage and preservation. Back L to R: Delegate Shaneka Henson, Commission Chair Rev. Dr. Tamara Wilson, Executive Director Chanel Compton, Commissioner Elinor Thompson, Commissioner Tony Spencer; Front L to R: Senate President Bill Ferguson, Governor Larry Hogan, House Speaker Adrienne Jones.

Letter from the Chair of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture

Dear Friends of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture,

Monday, May 16th, Governor Larry Hogan, House Speaker Adrienne Jones, and Senate President Bill Ferguson signed HB 1048, The Senator Verda Welcome Act, into law following, just days earlier, the passage of HB 1088, The African American Heritage Preservation Program – Annual Appropriation.

What a historic moment this is! 

We set out this legislative session with a vision to secure the stability and financial future of the Commission, ensuring that its work of preserving and promoting African American history and culture would continue for generations to come. And together, through advocacy, community support, and dedicated hard work, we have seen the passing of these two bills into law. 

This is truly a new day for African American history and culture in Maryland!

The state’s official museum on African American history and culture, the Banneker-Douglass Museum, received a $1.6 million appropriation that increases the museum’s capacity to preserve and present Maryland’s authentic African American history, art, and culture through educational programs, exhibitions, research, and collections management. Additionally, the increase of the African American Heritage Preservation Grant from $1 million to $5 million will support more African American heritage projects around the state for years to come. 

On behalf of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture, its Emeritus leadership, the staff of the Banneker-Douglass Museum (BDM), volunteers, and all of its many supporters, I offer sincere gratitude to Governor Larry Hogan and Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, for their leadership and support of the Commission in this effort and to Speaker Adrienne Jones, Delegate Darryl Barnes, Senator Cory McCray, Delegate Shaneka Henson, Delegate Benjamin Brooks, and Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes for their encouragement, support, and willingness to sponsor these most important bills. 

I believe our founders, the late Senator Verda F. Welcome and Dr. Benjamin A. Quarles, would be proud. Their vision and foresight created a national model that continues to not only celebrate Black history but uses it as a tool to eradicate racism. We, the current body of Commissioners and those who will follow us, stand on their shoulders. It is an honor for me to serve alongside such a dedicated and talented team. Without their expertise and commitment to preserving our collective history, this effort would have never gotten off the ground.

Most importantly, I am grateful to and for our outstanding Executive Director, Ms. Chanel Compton. I am confident that the Commission and the BDM will soar to even greater heights with her continued vision and leadership. 

As we press on continuing our work, serving as a repository of Black history in all its diversity, resilience, joy, and pain, inspiring and educating communities, I am most certain that we will accomplish even greater than we celebrate at this time. 

With Humility and Great Honor,

Tamara E. Wilson

Rev. Dr. Tamara E. Wilson, Chair