African American Cultural Committee | Montclair Art Museum
(MAM) & Yard School of Art offer American, Native American, & contemporary art exhibitions, programs, & classes in NJ

The African American Cultural Committee is a group of dedicated artists, community leaders, and volunteers who are engaged in the life of the Montclair Art Museum. Our mission is to sustain and maintain the legacy of artists of the African Diaspora. In its advocacy role, the AACC is a bridge between the Museum and various communities by forging meaningful connections through outreach and programs, shared values and vision on a local and international level.


For more information about the African American Cultural Commitee, please contact William Jiggetts, AACC Chair, at



Current Members


Adunni Anderson
Susan Bershad
Lonnie Brandon
Yolanda Brandon
Tommy Brayboy
Casey Carpenter
Marc Collins
Jayson Council
Marissa Crespo
Wanda Croudy
Mari D'Alessandro
Leah Fox
Shunzyu Haigler
Michael Heningburg
Betty Holloway
Kathy Imlay
William Jiggetts
Ben Jones
Charisse Jones
Cheryl Jones
Martha Kelshaw
David Klein
Wendy Lacey

Jonathan Lee
Linda Leonard-Nevels
Shirley Lewis
Carolyn Logan
Cassandra Martin
Catherine Mastrangelo
William May
Gioya McRae
Rosalind Murphy
Frank Planes
Jeanette Planes
Tanya Poteat
Marjorie Rich  
Robin Roche
Diane Scotland
Jonathan Simon
Janet Summers
Lynne Toye
Sharon Burton Turner
Diana Tyson
Lora Urbanelli
Valerie Wilson Wesley
Matilda Williams


Fall 2019 EVENTS

Meet Tony and Grammy Award-nominated playwright, poet, and lyricist Reg E. Gaines as he shares excerpts from one of his successful musicals and investigates the challenging journey to opening night on Broadway. 

FREE for MAM members / $15 for nonmembers

Tickets available online or at the door




Bibliophile Book Discussion

June 2019

View of the stage where panelists sat during the book discussionMichelle Obama's best seller Becoming is the topic of The Bibliophiles, Inc. ~ An African American Reading Group's upcoming panel discussion. The Bibliophiles are the nation’s oldest, continuously operating, incorporated, African American reading group in the United States. The Bibliophiles was born out of a mutual interest in sharing, promoting, and preserving the literature of the African Diaspora. These dynamic sisters consider themselves keepers of our culture. Bibliophiles founder, Joyce Harley will start the program off with an engaging background history of the Reading Group followed by an insider's view with engaging panelist dialogue. Not to be missed! This program is co-sponsored by the Montclair Art Museum's African American Cultural Committee (AACC). 





Summertime Scavenger Hunt

Summer 2017


The African American Cultural Committee is hosting a Summertime Scavenger Hunt—an experience that will invigorate your summer, tantalize your love of art, and help raise money to assist the Yard School Scholarship recipients with their art supplies. Registration is open until September 5th.


Photo Biographies: Telling Our Story

Thursday, February 2, 2017, 7 p.m.

Free First Thursday Night


The Museum’s African American Cultural Committee hosted a discussion, “Photo Biographies: Telling Our Story.” They viewed early photographs of African American individuals who were part of the Great Migration and heard from their descendants in a dynamic panel discussion. The Great Migration began around 1916 as African Americans moved north to take advantage of higher wages and better living conditions, but many found jobs in factories, slaughterhouses, and foundries, where the work was grueling and often dangerous. “It’s an American question and we can only answer partially. Engagement and investigation in celebration of Black history was in part the quest of the iconic American question, ‘Where are your people from?’ This exercise is part of the answer,” said panelist Shirley A. R. Lewis, PhD. This program is a partnership with the Montclair YMCA.


10th Annual AACC Film Forum: Step by Step, The Story of Harlem Prep

Thursday, February 9, 2017, 7 p.m.



The Montclair Art Museum’s African American Cultural Committee (AACC) Film Forum celebrated the 50th Anniversary of The Harlem Preparatory School, or “Harlem Prep,” with a screening of the documentary “Step by Step” and panel discussion including the founders’ daughter Casey Carpenter. Started in 1967, Harlem Prep was a pioneering experiment intended to turn high school dropouts into college graduates. The only high school in Central Harlem at the time, the school’s constant financial struggles and diverse population did not hinder it. “Step by Step” chronicles the teaching methods and unique culture that enabled the school to wildly exceed its goals, graduating 1,170 students in seven years.


Noise/Funk—20 Years Later
A Conversation with Savion Glover and Reg E. Gaines


Thursday, October 20, 2016 7 p.m.


More than 250 guests joined MAM for this sold out conversation with Savion Glover and Reg E. Gaines! We flashed back to 1995, when Bring in ‘Da Noise Bring in ‘Da Funk was winning Tony Awards and mesmerizing audiences, showcasing its original blend of dance/music/poetry. With an all-Black Creative Team and Black producer, Noise/Funk probably had more freedom to tell a genuinely Black story than any musical in Broadway history. Two of the show collaborators, Tap Dancer/Choreographer Savion Glover and poet Reg E. Gaines, took a look back at Noise/Funk, and opened up the floor for discussion about their journeys thus far. This event was sponsored by MAM’s African American Cultural Committee (AACC).



Read about the event in The Montclair Times


Noise/Funk Changes Montclair Lives


Photos from the event


30th Annual Julia Norton Babson Memorial Lecture

Janet Taylor Pickett: The Matisse Series

A Private Conversation Made Public

October 13, 2016, 7 p.m.


Artist Janet Taylor Pickett, MAM’s chief curator Gail Stavitsky, and independent curator Kathy Imlay of Imlay Gallery discussed Janet’s unique fusion of imagery, process, and inspiration in her current MAM exhibition, Janet Taylor Pickett: The Matisse Series. A reception with the artist followed the conversation, hosted by MAM's African American Cultural Committee.



AACC Trip to Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

March 13, 2016


The AACC toured Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia.  This exhibition is the first comprehensive museum overview of Norman Lewis: a pivotal figure in American art, a participant in the Harlem art community, an innovator of Abstract Expressionism, and a politically-conscious activist.



9th Annual Montclair African American Film Forum

Feauting Nefertite Nguvu's I Want You

February 25, 2016


Richard Wesley, Montclair resident and Playwriting/Screenwriting Professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, interviewed emerging New York filmmaker and School of Visual Arts Outstanding Screenplay award winner Nefertite Nguvu. MAM screened Nefertite’s uniquely stylized black-and-white romance I Want You followed by a Q&A and reception. This event was sponsored by MAM’s African American Cultural Committee (AACC)






Heart of the Shore: Panel Discussion with Filmmaker Cliff Charles and Guests

October 27, 2015


MAM's African American Cultural Committee presented segments of the documentary Heart of the Shore directed by Cliff Charles. A panel including filmmaker Cliff Charles and those featured in the documentary was moderated by Charisse Jones, USA Today national correspondent. For more information on Heart of the Shore, please visit





AACC Cuban Art Exhibition

June 4, 2015


At Free First Thursday Night, members of MAM's African American Cultural Committee displayed art collected during their recent trip to Cuba.








Conversation and Book Signing: Benilde Little

Welcome to My Breakdown

April 21, 2015


Benilde Little, bestselling author of Good Hair and The Itch, will discuss her first book of nonfiction Welcome to My Breakdown in conversation with Gabrielle Glaser, award-winning journalist and author. Powerful, relatable, and ultimately redemptive, Welcome to My Breakdown is a remarkable memoir about the power within us all to rise from despair and to feel hope and joy again. Both speakers are residents of Montclair. Books will be available for signing after the conversation.







8th Annual Montclair African American Film Forum

Featuring Siji and Elder's Corner

February 19, 2015


The Film Forum features films by independent African American filmmakers who bring to the big screen a look at the African Diaspora through a variety of entertaining and provocative genres. MAM and our African American Cultural Committee presented a special musical performance by Siji accompanied by brief selections from the Elder’s Corner documentary, followed by a Q&A session with the artist.






AACC Trip to Cuba

Summer 2014

The Montclair Art Museum's African American Cultural Committee recently took a unique travel excursion to Cuba. The trip was organized to coincide with the African American Artists and Abstraction exhibition at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Le Habana, Cuba. The tour provided an opportunity to view the exhibition and to meet the exhibiting artists including Ben Jones, Nanette Carter, Melvin Edwards, Willie Cole, Victor Davson, Jayne Cortez, Bill Hutson, Senga Nengudi, and Howardena Pindell. MAM's AACC group had incredible behind-the-scenes access to Cuban artists and cultural figures both in Havana and outside the city in Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and Santiago de Cuba. Through performances, exhibitions, studio visits, and meals in the homes of artists, the group made connections with emerging artists, folk artists, poets, dancers, community leaders, and international art stars. AACC members and friends—25 in all—had the choice to spend 7 or 12 days traveling throughout Havana, with Sandra Levinson, Director of the Center for Cuban Studies, which has over 40 years of experience bringing groups to Cuba.




Read about the trip in The Montclair Times


Upcoming Events

  • 23Nov
  • Silkscreen Ugly Holiday Sweatshirts 2 day Workshop
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  • 24Nov
  • Raku Firing Workshop
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