16 years in the making, Southampton African-American museum opens

It's been over a decade in the making, but the Southampton African-American museum will finally open its doors this weekend.

For Brenda Simmons, it‘s been a labor of love. For the past sixteen years, the East End native has imagined what the museum would one day look like, and now the work is finally complete. 

"Every crying tear, every sleepless night, it was worth it," Simmons said. "We have to leave a legacy here. We belong to the Hamptons." 

The site of it all -  a landmark in the Village of Southampton that dates back to the 1940s. It was originally a barbershop and beauty parlor opened and owned by Emanuel Seymore who moved to the Hamptons from the South during the Great Migration. 

The museum showcases African American art and pays homage to Seymore’s great work. Artifacts like the original radio that used to play in this very shop are perfectly placed throughout. 

"The three things we’ll be doing is The Great Migration, the history of the black barbershop, beauty parlors and juke joints as well as Pyrrhus Concer who was a former slave born here, taken away from his mom at 5-years-old to work on a farm," said Simmons. 

The museum will open on Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Now that all COVID restrictions have been lifted in New York, it will open at full capacity, allowing more people to visit. 

"They need to know about The Great Migration, they need to know the struggle, coming from the south to the north, they couldn’t stay in some hotels or eat in restaurants," Simmons said. 

Painful memories from the past, but important lessons for future generations.

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