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Event benefits Doleman Black Heritage Museum

October 25, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN -- An estimated 150 people turned out at the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown Sunday night to celebrate the work that has been done toward the development of the Doleman Black Heritage Museum, a vision described as having "no boundaries."

The featured entertainer for the event -- held to raise money for the establishment of the museum -- was saxophonist Brian Lenair.

General admission to the event cost $25, but Charles "Sonny" Doleman said it was unclear how much had been raised.

He said there is a local effort to match a $25,000 grant from the state for the museum. Doleman is the son of the late Marguerite Doleman, who owned the collection.

Artifacts in the collection have been described as priceless.

Among the items was china from the Harmon Hotel, which was the city's black-only lodging business off Jonathan Street. Baseball great Willie Mays was forced to stay there, apart from his white teammates, when he played his first professional game in the New York Giants' minor league system in June 1950.

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Guests at Sunday's fundraiser munched on food and sipped drinks as they listened to Lenair and comments from dignitaries from across the state.

Del. JoAnne C. Benson, D-Prince George's, who is from Hagerstown, praised the museum project and said it is important not only to the state, but the nation. The event's guest speaker, Gail Parker-Carter, mayor of Glenarden, Md., made similar comments, saying she hopes the idea behind the museum sparks similar projects across the state.

"Give yourselves a hand," Parker-Carter said.

Other dignitaries at the event included Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, and Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington. Donoghue said the establishment of the museum is just as important as other projects, including the new Barbara Ingram School for the Arts.

"If you're real passionate about this museum, tell the mayor you want it in Hagerstown," said Alesia Parson-McBean, chairperson of the Friends of the Doleman Black Heritage Museum.

Tom Riford, president and chief executive officer of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said his office regularly gets calls from people wanting to see the artifacts.

Riford said he thinks the museum would have interest from "all over the world. Are you with me on that?" Riford asked, drawing a round of applause from the audience.

A design that would serve as the logo for the museum was also unveiled at the event.

The design, created by Terri Fleetwood of Fleetwood Design, shows a hand reaching toward swirls of colors, which Fleetwood said stands for the journeys ahead.

Wording below the logo reads: "Doleman Black Heritage Museum. Experience the triumph of the human spirit over adversity."

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