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For the first year, the African/African-American Historical Museum will be participating in the 6th annual Fright Night on Oct. 19 in downtown Fort Wayne.
Mixing history and folklore, the museum will be transformed into a haunted house that delves deep into the world of African and African-American ghost stories and local historical figures including William Warfield.
Warfield was a prominent African American who lived in the East Central neighborhood of Fort Wayne between 1868 and 1936. He kept a daily journal between 1909 and 1936. The journal was not just about African-American life in the city, but about life in Fort Wayne on a daily basis. He wrote a lot about commerce because he was an entrepreneur.
John Aden, executive director at the African/African-American Historical Museum, said it's important to collaborate with other city institutions and events, not only to get the museum's name out there, but also to just have fun.
“We have a real opportunity to contribute to the Fright Night experience by offering a unique African and African-American haunted museum house,” he said. “It will give the community a broader sense that this is a place to be and where fun things can happen, and it's also historically engaging. We are excited about that.”
The ghost tour will also include a re-creation of tombstones in Jordan Crossing's, the historic African- American section of Lindenwood Cemetery.
Danielle Ridley, president of the museum's board, said it's exciting to participate in an event such as Fright Night because it brings the art and education community together, which is the exact way it should be.
“Everything, all these scary stories you hear, always come from a strand of truth and that is what we want to do is to inform and have fun. A lot of times, if we have a theatrical presentation maybe people will be more interested in history,” she said.
The museum tour will feature traditional African storytelling as well Arden said he role of the ancestors is really important because they are not viewed as dead, but just physically visible in the real world, but they still wield influence. For many pre-Colonial traditions that was a very powerful part of the world that wasn't to be ignored.
Telling ghost stories “reminds us of our past. All ghost stories are history on one level because they allude to someone who used to be here who isn't anymore. History and ghost stories are intimately connected,” Aden said.