FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Controversy continues at Fort Wayne's African American Historical Society Museum after the Board of Directors named a new executive director. The founder of the museum, Hana Stith, claims she was fired unjustly and is fighting the move.
Last week, there was an argument between Stith board president Pompia Durril and police were called.
Stith is now planning to hold a special meeting of the membership on February 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Allen County Main Library.
The African American Historical Society Museum issued this news release Wednesday:
FORT WAYNE, Ind. - Dr. John Aden, a professional historian, assumed his Executive Director's duties on January 28, 2013. He shared his vision for the Museum with the Board of Directors which is to integrate technologies into the programs and services and engage the technology savvy youth and community. Dr. Aden says, "Programs that engage students and learners of all ages both in-house (in person visits to the museum) and on the Internet through our website and other social media platforms have a powerful impact in preserving community history."
Over the next several months Dr. Aden, with the assistance of staff and the Board of Directors, will assess the technology needs of the Museum and create a plan to update the existing technology infrastructure. As the Museum integrates this new platform into its new delivery services, Dr. Aden believes that moving the museum in this direction will facilitate comprehensive and sustained community engagement.
The Board of Directors is excited about the hiring of Dr. Aden. He has local Southeast Fort Wayne roots and is fully aware of community issues and concerns. His educational background, knowledge of Museum Studies, and scholarly interests in African and Chinese Histories uniquely positions him to elevate the Museum's program operations into the 21st Century.
Dr. Aden graduated from Wabash College with honors, earned a Ph.D. from Indiana University and is a former Committee On Institutional Cooperation (CIC) Fellow, an Eli Lilly Teaching Fellow, a former J. William Fulbright Fellow, and has received numerous other awards. He is also the former Managing Editor of the peer-reviewed scholarly quarterly journal "Africa Today", published by the prestigious Indiana University African Studies Program, in conjunction with Indiana University Press.
Dr. Aden has worked in the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago -- a world renowned center for the study of Egyptology -- as a Summer Research Opportunity Program Fellow, as well as at the National Museum of Mali, West Africa during his Fulbright field research. He has extensive knowledge of and contacts in the field of museum studies, particularly as it pertains to African art, history, colonialism, and culture. These contacts, coupled with local partners, create opportunities for the Museum to expand its programs and cultural offerings.
According to Pompia Durril, president of the Board of Directors, "We are committed to the museum serving as a community resource and research institution that has long term growth and stability. We believe that Dr. Aden will build upon the legacy of the Museum's seven founders and the work of recently retired Director/Curator, Hana Stith." Mr. Durril noted, "we are very appreciative for Mrs. Stith's hard work over the past 10 years preserving and sharing the history of African American people in Northeast Indiana." We are looking forward to a continued relationship with Mrs. Stith as she serves in the honorary role of Curator Emeritus.
The Board of Directors encourages you to stop by the Museum, 436 East Douglas Street, say hello to Dr. Aden and let him share his experience and research on the Mande iron workers of Mali, West Africa.
Hana Stith sent out this news release in response:
FORT WAYNE, Ind. -Mrs. Hana Stith, Founder and Curator of the Fort Wayne African/African American Historical Society Museum, Fort Wayne's Icon in Civil Rights remains as the leading force of the Museum and challenges the accuracy of the previous Press Release announcing Dr. John Aden's as the new director. The reality is the Press Release is FALSE. Mrs. Stith was unjustly "fired" by Pompia Durril. The members will hold a Special Meeting scheduled on February 11, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. at the Allen County Main Library. The matters at hand will be settled in a righteous manner.
We've all heard the battle cry, and we are ready for the fight! A Special Meeting of the Membership has been has been called on February 11, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. at the Allen County Main Library. The Agenda includes to determine whether the corporation shall cease doing business, and to remove some of the current Board of Directors, specifically Mr. Pompia Durril, current Board of Directors President. Mr. Durril has failed to conduct the affairs of the Corporation in accordance with the By-Laws and Indiana Statues regulating Not For Profit Corporations.
The membership will also take a vote to rescind Mrs. Stith's termination who was fired effective December 31, 2012.
Mrs. Stith did not retire or resign, she was fired by the Board of Directors, President on December 28, 2012. She has not discussed or accepted the role of Curator Emeritus. Mr. Durril has attempted to physically remove Mrs. Stith from the Museum. There has been no agreements for Mrs. Stith to work with Dr. Aden in any capacity or any other position with the Museum.
The hiring of Dr. John Aden as the new director and implementation of a contract was not with the full knowledge and approval of the Board of Directors. Dr. Aden's hire is in question without the approval and vote of the Board. It will certainly be a moot point after the February 11th meeting.
It is the intent of the members to restore peace and the pursuit of happiness at the African/African American Historical Society Museum.
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