(from left) Brian Belcher, Supportive Housing Case Manager of Volunteers of America; Wesley Early, News Reporter for Alaska Public Media; Dorothy Jones, Associate Professor Emerita of UAF; Thomas McIntyre, Freelance Videographer & Sr. Outreach Specialist at CITC; and Renée Wardlaw, Vice President, Corporate Compliance and Administration of Bristol Bay Native Corporation.

What does it mean to be Black in Alaska? Rasmuson Foundation has supported an exploration of that question since 2020 that was inspired by conversations with Black leaders who noted a need for more positive and multi-dimensional portrayals.

Join us this Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Anchorage Museum for a panel discussion on the Black in Alaska multimedia storytelling project. The event is free and open to the public. Panelists who will share their stories and vision are:

  • Dorothy Jones, associate professor emerita of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and one of those whose story is featured in the project. From a childhood in the era of Jim Crow to a career teaching computer applications, she says there’s still work to be done.
  • Brian Belcher, supportive housing case manager for Volunteers of America, a dance coach and another person featured in Black in Alaska. As a queer Black man, he says he has found more acceptance in Alaska than anywhere.
  • Renée Wardlaw, vice president of corporate compliance and administration for Bristol Bay Native Corp. and a member of the advisory committee that directs the project.
  • Thomas McIntyre, the videographer for the project and an outreach specialist at Cook Inlet Tribal Council. The creative team is led by photographer Jovell Rennie.

Wesley Early, a reporter for Alaska Public Media, will moderate the panel. His story also was featured. The discussion will be held in the museum auditorium. Please use the Seventh Avenue entrance. Doors open at 5:30; panel starts at 6 p.m.

Black in Alaska is a multimedia project with a dedicated web site, blackinalaska.org, showcasing interviews, photos and short videos of Alaskans who are Black. Participants are from all over the state and represent diverse backgrounds in age, gender and socioeconomic status. Through storytelling, this project aims to dismantle stereotypes and create a deeper connection between Alaskans.

A rotating exhibition at the museum showcases work created for Black in Alaska. Newly added photos feature Belcher; Eleanor Andrews, a civic entrepreneur who has given back her whole life; DaJonee’ Hale, a former professional basketball player now dedicated to helping people out of homelessness; and former Anchorage Police Chief Ken McCoy. Others being featured are: Ric Wilson, Ashley Strong, Kayla Green, Julie Varee, R.C. Woodson, Jasmin Smith, Dr. Jillian Woodruff, Chris Hill and Carey Hall.

The Friday event is free and open to the public. If you plan to come, you can let us know at this link if you like. Refreshments will be from Fromagio’s, the artisan cheese shop owned by chef Lamar Sloss, whose story also was featured.