The African American Museum debuted in 1974 as part of the Special Collections at the historically black Bishop College. An independent operation since 1979, the museum steadfastly preserves the artistic, cultural, and historical legacy of the African American community, particularly that of East Texas. The 38,000-square-foot ivory-stone building holds one of the United States' largest collections of African American folk art, complete with pieces from luminaries like Mose Tolliver and Sister Gertrude Morgan. Elsewhere in the museum?s quartet of permanent galleries, African masks, gold weights, and textiles share space with American fine art from the 1800s to the present, video kiosks, and vintage photographs depicting the eras of slavery, emancipation, and reconstruction.
In addition to ongoing exhibitions, the African American Museum hosts temporary exhibits focusing on everything from lesbian families in the Deep South to winners of its National Black Art Competition. The museum?s events, meanwhile, include monthly concerts, annual jazz festivals, a kids' summer camp, and an invitational for black rodeo cowboys.
Dash for the Beads 5K is a race. And a walk. And a costume contest. And a family- and pet-friendly festival. Established in 2010, the annual gathering rolls a slew of events into one fun-filled day in an effort to raise money for Dash for the Beads?a non-profit that helps local schools promote healthy habits. The 5K route begins and ends at Kidd Springs Park, and weaves through the hills of East Kessler. But whether they walk, run, or somersault, participants are encouraged to dress themselves?and their pets?in costumes. It's a festive vibe that carries into a post-race party, complete with live music from The O's, food, and a beer garden sponsored by local breweries.
Despite the its military-inspired mantra of "No man or woman left behind," Mercer County Bootcamp's motivating instructors build camaraderie and accountability without screaming directions or forcing students to wear camouflage dunce caps. They help guests of all ages and abilities reach their fitness goals with an indoor boot-camp program that blends cardio, resistance training, obstacle courses, and ab workouts to slim down waistlines. The team also harnesses such equipment as kettlebells and battle ropes while leading ever-changing fitness routines on the gym's spring-loaded floor, which protects joints from damage. These instructors team up with nutrition experts to provide support during periodic progress assessments and nutrition counseling, helping guests achieve better results by following a comprehensive road map to improved health.
It's probably a good idea to stay on Lex Ronin's good side. The trainer, bodybuilding coach, and marathoner is also a hand-to-hand combat instructor, krav maga instructor, and certified Texas Tactical SWAT medic with a six-year Army career behind him. Lex is a meditation, pranayama (yoga breathing), and gentle-yoga instructor, too?all the more reason to remain in his good graces. Exercisers looking for guidance can find it at Ronin Fitness, where Lex offers personal-training sessions, group classes, beginners' marathon training, and nutritional counseling.