The Maricopa Historical Society, hoping to illustrate the city’s diverse history and culture, has opened an exhibit featuring prominent Black figures since the city’s establishment in 2003.
The exhibit at the museum, 44240 Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy., is visually driven with a 20-minute video loop, highlighting Black educators, church pastors, politicians, entertainerst and community leaders.
“Maricopa has a rich tapestry of people and a beautiful blend of residents that make us wealthy at heart,” said Chrystal Allen-O’Jon, a leader in creating the display.
“I want people to visit the museum and say, ‘Hey, look, everyone is included here.’ I think it gives a complete picture of all the community members here.”
The idea originated from Paul Shirk, president of the Historical Society, and Jim Irving, a longtime pillar of Maricopa’s Black community, while enjoying coffee on the museum’s porch.
“We were just sitting at Coffee on the Porch and thought: ‘Let’s run with it,’” Shirk said. “Everyone here is just super excited.”
Months of planning, research and meetings with local community members ensued to pull it together.
The organization team also included Linda Austin, Gayle Randolph, JoAnna Vanderpool, Marvin and Helen Brown, Kent O’Jon, and City Councilman Henry Wade.
“This is what greatness looks like,” Randolph said of the display. “Let’s share it with the community and celebrate it.”
Organizers plan to continue building the collection of photographs, artifacts and history that document Maricopa’s African American culture in the permanent fixture in the museum.