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Rebuilding San Diego’s African American Museum Of Fine Art

San Diego's African American Museum of Fine Art presents:

Credit: Associated Press

Above: San Diego's African American Museum of Fine Art presents: "In Our Lifetime" A Photo Exhibition Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.


Gaidi Finnie, Chief Operating Officer, Bayview Baptist Church


Building a museum almost from scratch is a major undertaking.

But the people who are working to revive San Diego's African-American Museum of Fine Art, or SDAAMFA, says it's well worth the effort.

The museum has found a home in the Martin Luther King Jr. Center on the campus of Bayview Baptist Church in Encanto.

Organizers have hopes of redesigning the space and eventually welcoming national exhibits.

The museum celebrated its gala opening and its first show this month with the exhibit, "In Our Lifetime" which features a photography display commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

Photo credit: Johnson Publishing Corp

Coretta Scott King and civil rights activist Rosa Parks.

Shirley Day-Williams founded the original museum in 1990. It was designed as a "museum without walls," presenting exhibitions at various venues around the county. But SDAAMFA faded from the community after she died in 1996.

Gaidi Finnie is now spearheading the effort to revive the museum.

"I"m an art enabler, I've been doing things to contribute to San Diego's arts scene for many years, when I started working at the Church I looked at space and I thought this would be a great gallery space, so we pushed forward to get it to this point," he said.

He was the managing director of the North Coast Repertory Theatre, the co-director of the Museum of Photographic Arts and served on the Port of San Diego Public Art Committee.

Several events are scheduled throughout the month of February in connection with the opening, including a screening of the film "Fruitvale Station," Feb. 15, 2014, 5:30-8 p.m. followed by a symposium titled: “Why is America Afraid Of Our Young Black Men?"

The museum is being received with open arms by the community, says Carolyn Smith who is helping Finnie rebuild the museum.

"I think the contributions of African Americans nationwide have been somewhat diminished, I think in San Diego more so because there isn't that opportunity, I think the vision Gaidi has to resurrect this museum is timely I think it will give the community something to rally around, we need to have that presence here in San Diego."

"In Our Lifetime" will be on display through Feb. 28. Admission is free.

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