DETROIT: The Wright Museum

28 Mar

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The Charles H Wright Museum of African-American History is the world’s largest institution dedicated to the African-American experience. Having said that,  I’d like to add, it’s a wonderful museum to visit.  Whichever door you enter, you will find yourself in the Ford Freedom Rotunda. Here the wide open space if filled with light pouring in through the glass dome, at 100 feet in diameter  and 65 feet in height, it is impressive. On the floor of the rotunda is the Ring Of Genealogy; designed by Hubert Massey the piece depicts the struggles of African-Americans in this country. Bronze nameplates of prominent citizens surround the piece, each year new names are added to the Ring. The museum is named for founder Dr Charles H Wright, an obstetrician and gynecologist who practiced in Detroit from 1946-1950 and again from 1955-1986.

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The heart of the museum is “And Still We Rise: Our Journey Through African-American History and Culture”.  The exhibits are laid out in time-line fashion; beginning in Africa with the birth of mankind,then we get a look into ancient and early modern civilization. Beautiful dress and artwork fill displays. From there we start an eerie, haunting trip, the treacherous journey across the ocean, where men and women were transported from their independence into slavery.The ship exhibit demonstrates a small  glimpse of the suffering  that was endured; a moving and at times uncomfortable experience for museum-goers. Continuing forward in time through the days of the underground railroad, up to emancipation. In the end  we are able to celebrate the freedom and success of past and present-day Detroiters.  The building is also home to  the General Motors Theater which hosts live performances, films and lectures. Located in Detroit’s Cultural Center it is one of many great things to do in the area.

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 When Slow’s Bar B Q opened in the shadows of the old train station it seemed an unlikely location for success; they had the guts to take a chance and it has paid off bigger than I think they even imagined. They have paved the way for other fledgling businesses such as Astro Coffee and Sugar House, and all are reaping the rewards. Suddenly this little stretch of Michigan Avenue has come alive. We have been patiently awaiting the opening of Mercury Burger Bar across the street from Slow’s; alas our wait is over!The building is named after the Mercury Train which ran from New York to Detroit and then Chicago in the 1930’s and 40’s. It’s latest incarnation serves burgers, hand-cut fries, grilled bologna sandwiches, milkshakes, and yes, cocktails.

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Situated on a corner lot the building is odd-shaped; very narrow at the entrance and growing wider toward the back. The bar reflects this shape and is at the center of the dining room; aluminum tables and chairs line the windowed walls, red vinyl dresses up the booths. To the left hangs a large mural created by Detroit’s own Jerome Feretti. Play a game of seek and find as you look at the colorful piece; the Penobscot building, ren cen, sails of a tall ship, all play homage to the city. On the back wall a large image of a Mercury automobile grill livens up the space. Then there’s the food; you can’t go wrong with a good burger, and they have plenty to choose from. I had the turkey burger, tender and moist, good toppings, it was delicious. Kris went with the Local, it seemed to have a bit of everything piled high on top, also delicious. The fries are heavenly; fresh-cut, fried to a perfect crisp and seasoned with sea salt and pepper, I could have eaten the entire basket myself! They were doing a swift business this afternoon, it seems the good word is out. Next time you have a burger craving, give Mercury a try.

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