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.