This weekend, celebrate African Americans who have persevered through triumph, as well as those who made FaceTiming a friend and mowing your lawn easier.
The African American History and Culture showcase, taking place Saturday and Sunday, will feature exhibits that contain artifacts, replicas, and inventions, that were made, owned, or used by African Americans from the past and present.
Showcase founder Everett Staten says there are about 100 artifacts, including 70 inventions, on display — ranging from slave shackles, branding irons, old baseball equipment used by players from the Burnett Negro Leagues, replicas of a stand-up lawn mower, an egg beater, and a folding cot to Voice Over Internet Protocol, technology that allows people to communicate through audio and video while simultaneously using the internet.
The slave shackles and branding irons come from the Lest We Forget Museum of Slavery exhibit, owned by J. Justin and Gwen Ragsdale. It’s the only museum in Philadelphia with authentic slave artifacts.
“We have a traveling slavery exhibit and participate in other events, but here in Philadelphia, this is the largest showcase that we participate in," Gwen Ragsdale said.
Justin Ragsdale will give a lecture about slaves and their time on slave ships. Also featured in the exhibit will be bill of sale documents showing how enslaved Africans were bought and sold, Jim Crow-era artifacts that were created to make blacks feel inferior, and photos of the lynching of black men.
At the exhibit of the International Black Inventions Museum, founded by Valerie J. Robinson in 1988, you will find replicas of early models of a lawn mower, egg beater, and the folding cot, among other items made by black inventors. One of the newest additions is the Voice Over Internet Protocol.
Marian Croak, who was inducted into the Women in Technology Hall of Fame in 2013, is credited with furthering the development of the protocol. The technology is used for Skype, Magic Jack, and various streaming services.
“Marian Croak has literally taken the internet to a new level, but, sadly, most people have no idea who she is, yet they benefit from her inventions every day," said Staten.
One exhibit is dedicated to inventor Granville T. Woods and his electrical and mechanical inventions. Staten called him the father of modern transportation.
For sports fans, baseball equipment from the Burnett Negro League will be on display. Pedro Sierra, a pitcher who played in the Negro Leagues in the 1950s, will participate in the Living Legends portion, where you can meet and greet those who made their mark throughout black history.