Oakland, CA – The Oakland Public Library (OPL) is pleased to announce the appointment of Bamidele Agbasegbe-Demerson as Chief Curator of the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO).
Demerson was selected following a nationwide search to fill the leadership role at the largest museum and library dedicated to preserving and making accessible the rich and long-standing history and contribution of African Americans in California and the West.
“I am excited to serve as the Chief Curator of the African Museum and Library at Oakland. This city is rich in a history of black people building communities and shaping a culture of activism,” said Demerson. “Building upon past initiatives, I hope that AAMLO – through its continued development of exhibitions, expansion of archival collections, and acquisition of books – will cast in relief the many stories that are part of the national narratives of our quest for freedom, social justice and equality.”
He brings over three decades of professional experience in museum curation, grants procurement, teaching and lecturing in higher education, and publishing reports of his research in academic journals.
Demerson most recently served as the Culture and Arts Education Manager and Curator with the George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural & Genealogy Center in Austin, Texas. Prior to that, he simultaneously held the roles of Executive Director and Curator & Director of Programs with the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina.
He also held the top posts at the Harrison Museum of African America Culture in Roanoke, Virginia, and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.
Demerson earned his Masters of Arts in Museum Studies from the Southern University at New Orleans, in which he conducted two field placements in Accra, Ghana and New Orleans. During his time in West Africa with the Ghana Museum and Monuments Board, he engaged in outreach to local schools to provide exhibition tours in addition to developing a prospectus for an exhibition on material culture of the African diaspora and its relationship to West African prototypes.
He earned his Bachelor of Science in Cultural Anthropology and Afroamerican and African Studies from the University of Michigan, where he started his career as a graduate teaching assistant and research assistant for the Black Family Literature Review Project.
“I am thrilled by the knowledge and expertise that Mr. Demerson brings to the position of AAMLO Chief Curator. I’m also grateful for the community participation that led to this appointment,” said Director of Library Services Jamie Turbak. “His educational background in cultural anthropology, Africana and museum studies, as well as executive and leadership positions in African American art, civil rights, genealogy and culture museums will provide a deep and broad contribution to AAMLO’s mission. I look forward to supporting him and the AAMLO staff in their work to promote and grow the riches that AAMLO has to offer.”
The national recruitment was conducted by a professional search firm, in coordination with multiple community meetings and consultations with the Stewards of AAMLO, the main booster group for the museum and library.
A free, public welcome reception is being planned for late June or early July. There will be an announcement for the event in the near future.
The African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO) is dedicated to the discovery, preservation, interpretation and sharing of historical and cultural experiences of African Americans in California and the West for present and future generations. The archives include over 160 collections documenting prominent families, pioneers, churches, social and political organizations. AAMLO has a unique non-circulating reference library for researchers, students and anyone interested in African American history, in addition to a second-floor museum that regularly hosts traveling and original exhibitions highlighting the art, history and culture of African Americans. Highlights of AAMLO's collections include the Ronald V. Dellums Congressional Papers, the Oakland Post Photograph Collection documenting African American politicians, entertainers, athletes and community leaders from the Bay Area during the 1960s, '70s, and 80's, studio portraits of Oaklanders by the photographer E.F. Joseph, and the papers of Oakland cartoonist and illustrator Morrie Turner. Located at 659 14th St., AAMLO is housed in the former Charles S. Greene Library, a historic 1902 Carnegie building.
The Oakland Public Library is a part of the City of Oakland in California and has been in existence since 1878. Locations include 16 neighborhood branches, a Main Library, a Second Start Adult Literacy Program, the Oakland Tool Lending Library, and the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO). On April 1, 2019, OPL expanded its hours for the first time since 2004 thanks to the passage of Measure D. The Oakland Public Library empowers all people to explore, connect, and grow.