(June 24, 2012) The opening of the “Growing Up AFRO: Snapshots of Black Childhood” exhibit June 23 at the Reginald F. Lewis was, by all accounts, a rousing success.

The exhibit is one of several events to be held this year to commemorate the AFRO-American Newspapers’ 120th anniversary. Sponsors for the exhibit include the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation, the Living Legacy Foundation, Baltimore Gas & Electric and Michael Cryor, founder and president of the Cryor Group and chairman of the Board of Visitors of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Ironically the number of people who toured the exhibit on opening day was equal to the number of years of AFRO history being celebrated, said Kenneth Johnston, the museum’s visitor services supervisor.

“The admissions show 120 people came in yesterday, and two groups,” Johnston said. “Everyone who went through the exhibit really liked it. They really liked what it stands for.”

“Growing Up AFRO” was conceived by AFRO archivist John Gartrell, who spent more than a year combing the newspapers’ extensive collection of photographs. The exhibit, which is located in 3,500 square feet of space on the Baltimore museum’s second level, was feted at a reception the night before the opening by AFRO and museum staff members, as well as supporters of the newspaper, which publishes editions in Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Prince George’s County.

“We recognize that the achievement of 120 years of continuous publication is an enormous accomplishment for any Black business, especially in this day and age,” said AFRO publisher and Chairman Jake Oliver. “We are proud of our heritage and we believe we have an obligation to share that pride with the community to ensure that the history will not be forgotten.”

Those who gathered at the reception included Carolyn Fugett, mother of the late businessman and philanthropist Lewis; Judge Robert M. Bell, chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals; Judge Marcella A. Holland, circuit administrative judge for the Baltimore City Circuit Court. Museum officials included Leslie King-Hammond, Ph.D., chair of the board of directors and A. Skipp Sanders, Ed. D., the museum’s interim executive director.

“It was a privilege to be a part of this exhibit and in fact, a no-brainer to participate,” said BG&E Vice President Robert L. Gould.

Fugett drew applause when she told the crowd that her son had sold the AFRO as a child and when he was away, she would take his place.

“It was one of his first businesses,” she said, praising the AFRO for its continuous service to the community and its commitment delivering the news.

“I’m always happy when it arrives and I was pleased to see that it arrived on time today before I left,” she said.

“Growing Up AFRO” will be on display through December 30, 2012.