Black history comes alive in a bank lobby

10:43 PM, Feb 22, 2013   |    comments
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  • Making history come alive in 5/3rd bank lobby.
  • Onlookers talk to an actress playing the "Negro Woman"

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - February is black history month, but making history interesting is not always easy. Friday, history came to life in a rather unusual place-- a bank lobby.

Standing in a hallway between two ferns you could hear, "I was the conductor my plan was the Underground Railroad." These words were spoken by an actress portraying Harriet Tubman.

Tubman was one of many historical icons played by 5/3rd employees as part of a live museum show for black history month. Kim Jefferson coordinated the event. "This is the live African American history museum. What we are doing is bringing history to life," explains Jefferson.

The icons include well known African American figures like George Washington Carver. He was famous for the many uses he found for food products, like peanuts and sweet potatoes.

And there were lesser known icons, but still significant figures, telling their stories like the first self-made American female millionaire Madame CJ Walker. She made her fortune in the earlier 1900s selling beauty products.

In the corner of the room with an ironing board stood a washer woman named Osceola McCarty, who gave 60 percent of her income to help minority students. The amount she donated was over $150,000-- an impressive amount given her occupation.

"To have the characters actually talking in the first person and really getting a feel for that struggle... you can't get that from the book," explains Kim Jefferson.

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