'Not just our past, but our future' for Doleman Black Heritage Museum

July 28, 2012|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI |

The Doleman Black Heritage Museum has more than a quarter of a century’s worth of artifacts to exhibit.

The late Marguerite Doleman accumulated the collection, then founded the museum in 1974 and operated it in her North Locust Street home.

Alesia Parson-McBean, a representative of the Doleman Black Heritage Museum, said friends and family have been seeking support to find a permanent, more suitable site for the museum, which acquired nonprofit status in 2008.

The museum’s board of directors, along with Friends of The Doleman Black Heritage Museum, carried on that effort Saturday afternoon with a Chocolate Garden Tea fundraiser at Applause Catering in Hagerstown. About 130 guests attended in tea-time attire, sporting an array of gloves and fancy, embellished hats.

McBean said tickets cost $25 and organizers hoped the event would raise at least $3,000.

Attendees ate finger sandwiches and chocolate desserts, and bought raffle tickets for items such as garden and tea-time baskets. Favors were cup-and-saucer sets containing small plants, with tea tags reading, “Grow, DBHM, Grow!”

Shannon Gaines, 43, of Hagerstown, attended the event with her daughter Jasmine Dotson, 12.

“I think this is important not just for the Doleman history, but for Hagerstown as whole, and we want to recognize it,” Gaines said.

Darlene Cooper of Hagerstown sang an a cappella gospel number and Judy Larkin, a certified tea specialist originally from Manchester, England, addressed the crowd regarding the finer points of tea.

McBean made a plea for support to those taking tea. She said a digital archive and eight museum exhibits, six with mobile capability, have been completed thanks to previously raised funds.

One of the exhibits outlines the history of Jonathan Street and the five blocks in which blacks in Hagerstown used to be confined to living. Another traces eight generations of the Hopewell family, who were ancestors to the Dolemans.

“You would think that with something that’s been here since 1974, we would not be talking about getting a gallery, but about an annex to a building,” McBean said. “What our organization needs now is prayer. This is not just out past, but our future.”

McBean said when the project comes to fruition, it will not be just a museum, but a boon to economic development, a travel destination and a “beautiful story.”

LaTonya Wrenn, director of the Bowie State University Gospel Choir, and vocalist Eva M. Ingram provided additional musical entertainment.

Washington County Commissioner William B. McKinley, Hagerstown Councilman Lewis Mentzer and Julianna Albowicz, a representative for U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, attended the event. McKinley commended the museum for its progress.

“I think you are moving in exactly the right direction,” he said. “I am here on behalf of all the other commissioners today. We are looking forward to the progress that you make and hoping that the county commissioners will be a part of that.”

Parson-McBean said the museum’s permanent site most likely will be in the historic black district of Jonathan Street.

Shakira Doleman, 21, of Hagerstown, a descendent of the museum’s founder, said she is glad “the dream is still alive.”

“It’s just good that my great-great-grandmother’s dream can still come true. I compare it to Martin Luther King Jr.,” she said. “After he was gone, people continued working to make his dream happen. That’s kind of what’s going on here.”

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