Spark Your Imagination
Welcome to one of Fresno’s preeminent cultural museums. The collections and events at the African American Museum are second to none. You are cordially invited to our Museum, where you will get the chance to expand your knowledge through our exclusive collection and optional tours. You will be exposed to new ideas and different exhibitions that will develop your mind.
Our ever-growing institution is dedicated to expanding our visitors’ knowledge. Ultimately, we are in the business of education, and we believe in providing learning experiences for children and educational opportunities for adults. With our temporary exhibitions and events, as well as our permanent collections, we are sure that everyone will leave our Museum with new knowledge.
The determination of one voice
The African-American Historical and Cultural Museum of the San Joaquin Valley concept came about in 1986 by retired Fresno City police officer, Sergeant Jack Kelly and his wife Rosa Kelley. By 1989, a plan was laid out and the organization was incorporated.
When it's doors officially opened in 1993, it was the only non-profit educational facility of its kind. The museum houses hundreds of historical photographs, artifacts and memorabilia dating back to the 1880’s which documents the numerous contributions of local African-Americans who live or are from the San Joaquin Valley. Pictorial exhibits profiling African- Americans who have excelled in the fields of government, politics, art, education, religion, health, business, law, medicine, sports, agriculture, and the work of local African-American artist are prominently displayed for educational tours.
Founder Jack Albert Gilbert Frank Kelley was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on August 23, 1920, one of eight children born to Frank and Fannie Cobbs-Kelly. He excelled in three sports at Tulare Union High School and at Fresno State College in the 1940’s. In 1943, he served his country for two years in Europe.
On April 26, 1946 Jack married Rosa L. Conley. They were blessed with six children: three daughters, a son, and two daughters from a previous union. In 1949, Jack became a Fresno Police Officer and became the departments first African American Sergeant in 1969.
Upon retirement in 1970, he became a Law Enforcement Coordinator at California State University, Fresno. The most visible reminder of his legacy is the African American Historical and Cultural Museum of the San Joaquin Valley, he founded with his wife Rosa. Because of his legacy, other pioneers are recognized on the walls of the museum, which breathe the rich history of the black community; the African-American Historical & Cultural Museum of the San Joaquin Valley (AAHCMSJV) was founded by retired Fresno Sgt. Homicide &Detective Kelly in 1986 against many odds.
He will be best remembered for his generosity, his big gracious smile and for his favorite quote by Will Rodgers, “I never met a man I didn’t like.”
Board of Directors
Board Vice-Chair Gregory Melancon
Board Treasurer Julia Dudley Najieb
Board Member Rona Ledermann
Board Member Dr. Carolyn Drake
Board Member Charles Francis
Board Member Rodney Murphy
Board Member Lynnette Brown
Do you have an interest in becoming a part of the AAHCMSJV Board of Directors?
Great! Please look at some of the basic criteria for those who would like to serve:
1. Must already be a member of the AAHCMSJV
2. If served in prior years, must be honorable term(s) served (i.e. no resignation, board vote termination, employee firing)
3. Willing to raise or provide $1,600.00 year individually toward the Museum
4. Preferably no felonies within the last five years
5. Able to provide a specific expertise toward the current AAHCMSJV Board of Directors
6. Within the application periods: Sept 1 - Dec. 1 and April 1 to June 1 when seats are available
7. Must live in California and able to attend 80% of the monthly meetings, and be able to spare a minimum of 10 hours a
month for volunteering
8. Conflicts of interests (i.e. AAHCMSJV staff member, spoken ill-will of organization to public, immediate family member
already serving, etc.)
9. Be willing to be interviewed by the current board members
What We’re All About
THE MUSEUM’S MISSION
Our mission is to celebrate and promote the richness of African and African-American history and culture in the Central San Joaquin Valley through exhibition, theater, music, and education.
The Community Effort
THE MUSEUM’S GOAL
Our main goal is to educate the community about the local history of African Americans from throughout the Central Valley. We are committed to educating through our Museum, one exhibit or event at a time. There is always something new and exciting happening, and our knowledge is always expanding.