AAMBG fundraiser Saturday

Emma Austin

Students, faculty and community members will come together this weekend in a fundraising event to open the doors of the African American Museum of Bowling Green.

The fundraiser will take place Saturday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Faculty House. There is a $20 entrance fee, and registration begins at 5:30 p.m.

The idea for the fundraiser began in associate professor of folk studies Timothy Evans’ Folk 330 Cultural Connections and Diversity class.

Shelbyville sophomore Courtney Thompson said the class is divided into groups, each of which has been working with a nonprofit organization in Bowling Green throughout the semester.

Thompson’s group, who chose to work with the AAMBG, applied for and received a grant through $100 Solution, a project that gives students the opportunity to use $100 to address a community need.

“They’ve been trying to open for about 20 years or so,” Thompson said. “Through meeting with [the AAMBG], we established that their need was money to help them open their doors.”

Hartford junior Kelsey Leisure, one of the students working on the project with the AAMBG, said the idea for a dance-a-thon fundraiser came to her after hearing Maxine Ray, History Committee chairwoman of the AAMBG, speak to the class about the museum and why it needed help.

“The African American Museum of Bowling Green is striving to revive the history of Bowling Green that is not well known,” Leisure said. “The museum is a great asset to the Bowling Green community, and they need all of our support to be successful.”

Thompson said the dance-a-thon will incorporate the historical culture of the Shake Rag and Jonesville communities, two historically black districts in Bowling Green that were broken up after the government forced relocation.

“It’s a history that Bowling Green has really kept quiet,” Thompson said. “We’re trying to keep that alive and bring awareness to the community.”

In addition to the Shake Rag and Jonesville communities, Thompson said the museum will focus on American black history as a whole, including the national Civil Rights Movement.

The museum is currently working on a project for a booth to be set up where people can record their own stories, Thompson said.

“It’s a live way of documenting what people have experienced,” Thompson said. “It’s really preserving history, and people have a real contribution to it.”

Thompson said there will be music, refreshments, dance competitions and other games. WKU’s a cappella groups, the Redshirts and Treblemakers, are also scheduled to perform.

“All of the organizations that form teams are going to be recognized on a banner at the ribbon-cutting of the museum,” Thompson said.

Thompson explained that an important part of the Shake Rag culture is dancing, which she said will be celebrated on Saturday through dance competitions honoring traditional dances from the Shake Rag era.

“The event is important because it gives everyone a chance to show their support for an organization that is trying to establish a connection with some of Bowling Green’s forgotten culture,” Leisure said. “I have faith in the museum to continue to inform the community of the African-American history and keep it alive.”