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WUWM's Teran Powell races on race and ethnicity in southeastern Wisconsin.

African Americans' Contributions To The Arts At Center Of New Milwaukee Museum & Performing Space

Bishop Sedgwick Daniels
Courtesy of I-PAMA
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Bishop Sedgwick Daniels, executive director of The Institute for the Preservation of African American Music & Arts, gives a tour to guests in one of the institute’s show rooms.

Milwaukee has a new museum and performing arts center devoted to preserving the history, culture and accomplishments of African Americans.

Saturday marks the grand opening of the The Institute for the Preservation of African American Music & Arts, also known as I-PAMA. It’s located at North 32rd Street and West Hampton Ave. in the Old North Milwaukee neighborhood.

The institute will offer traveling art exhibits, programs for families, culinary arts and interactive experiences. It’s an initiative of Holy Redeemer Church of God in Christ. Bishop Sedgwick Daniels, who’s the pastor there, is the institute’s executive director.

Daniels says he realized the potential impact of a place like the institute after a visit to a powerful holocaust museum in Israel over 30 years ago.

"I began to realize that many people in our community, many young people and families don't really understand, therefore cannot appreciate, the sacrifices, the culture of a people that was once enslaved as other cultures and have ascended to new horizons," he says. "... [I-PAMA] allows us to give an appreciation so that we can have prototypes and patterns to successfully build a brighter tomorrow at a better today."

As far as what people can expect their experience to be at I-PAMA, Daniels says people can expect to take a journey to Africa — a place he says many people, including in the Milwaukee community, may have never journeyed.

"And there you can see the artifacts; you can see various videos, displays, and even hear the voices of Africans past and present," he explains.

I-PAMA
Courtesy of I-PAMA
African Americans’ accomplishment in music hang on the walls of another show room at the institute.

Daniels adds, "Not only that, you'll also be able to see and enjoy the various artistic presentations from African American artists from around the nation. You'll also be able to see and hear some of the various genres of music that have been contributed and actually founded in the Americas by African traditions and African vocalists."
Daniels says in the long run, I-PAMA is a sign of hope in the community.

"We had a lot of disconnect in families because of pandemic, because of the kinds of issues, philosophies and thinking that people have. But what it does is in a positive way it presents to our community and other cultures and communities an appreciation for the contributions of a people," he says. "So, we lead with hope. And I suppose that would be the keyword is that it brings hope. It brings hope to communities. It brings hope to youth. It brings hope to individuals. It allows individuals to dream and to soar and to be eagles. And to find that phoenix; that place, that space that makes a difference in our culture and in our world."

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