#LeadILM2020 Explores the Vibrant Arts, Culture and History of Wilmington
The Leadership Wilmington class met for their first monthly session on Tuesday exploring the arts, culture and history of Wilmington. Jan Davidson, historian at the Cape Fear Museum, kicked off the history portion of the day with an in-depth history of Wilmington’s founding. She started her presentation by asking the class to draw their New Hanover County on a map – where you work, live, play, and worship. The exercise reiterated that how and where classmates interact with our city and county varies greatly.
Where Davidson briefly covered the events of 1898, the class received a deeper-dive into the events of the coup via a walking tour with Abdul Rahman Shareef. Shareef, a Vietnam Veteran, Williston High School alumnus and historian in his own right, led the class from the Martin Luther King Center to sites historic to the events of 1898, including the site of the burned Daily Record. He also walked the class to the Wilmington Journal, the former Williston High School and the Gregory Normal Institute, the site of the beginning of education for African Americans in Wilmington. The class also explored more recent history on the hike at the Gregory Congregational Church, site of the Wilmington Ten protests.
On a personal note and as a new resident of Wilmington, I encourage any Wilmingtonian to register for an Urban History Hike. Dates and registration can be found here.
Following our hike, we headed to the Cape Fear Museum for a personal tour of the collection with curator, Heather Yenco. There we saw original publications of the Daily Record, including the infamous What is There to Fear editorial published just prior to the coup of 1898.
We appreciate the Cape Fear Museum hosting us during construction projects and post-Dorian repairs. They even provided the class vouchers to return to the museum free of charge on their own time when exhibits are reopened.
The second half of the day focused on Wilmington’s robust arts community. Rhonda Bellamy, executive director of the Arts Council of Wilmington & New Hanover County; Anne Brennan, executive director of the Cameron Art Museum; and Johnny Griffin, executive director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission all shared their passion for the arts and their economic impact in our region upon arriving to the Cameron Art Museum. Did you know Wilmington is home to 30 art galleries and 20+ theater companies in the city alone? Or that a TV series like One Tree Hill spent $350 million in our community during its nine-year run? The arts don’t just add a level of beauty to our community but are an economic engine for our county.
If you’re looking for a way to support the arts community consider buying tickets for the Arts Council’s annual Arty Party in November.
The day culminated with a powerful performance by students from DREAMS of Wilmington. Students ranging in age from 11 – 14 presented an interpretive dance in the TeamLab exhibit at CAM.
Continue along with us next month when we hear from the Cape Fear River Watch, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and the Emergency Management Center under the topic of environment.