The exhibit was so popular, its three-month stay was extended by a month.
"After the exhibit was here for four months, we thought it was over with," Minimah said. Yet the State Museum kept receiving calls of interest about the Henrietta Marie, calls which were referred to Minimah's group.
"We couldn't bring the traveling exhibit back to West Virginia. So, what we decided to do was to take what we learned during that period of time and to put Heritage Towers together. That was how Heritage Towers was born."
Conceived in 2002, the museum finally opened June 17, 2005, with West Virginia first lady Gayle Manchin as the guest of honor at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Since then, the museum has drawn up plans, dreamed big and hoped for expanded quarters. At one point in 2003, All-Aid International sought $8.5 million from the state's economic development grant committee for a museum, cultural center and minority business incubator.
Right now, the most immediate concern is water damage in the bathrooms from a leak. But dreams of bigger and better spaces still animate Minimah.
"We're looking to find a permanent home for Heritage Towers Museum. There are a number of locations we're looking at. But it does require having a significant amount of funding to do that. Hopefully, one of these days, we'll be lucky enough to find someone who might be interested to work with us to find a new home for Heritage Towers Museum."
Meanwhile, the museum works its mission through such vehicles as the Heritage Kids Club, which brings youths in monthly to work on arts, crafts, music and more. "That helps to educate the children growing up to use this facility to erase some of the issues of miseducation of the children. When people talk about black history and black culture, there are a lot of erroneous assumptions."
For instance, consider the continent from which Minimah hails.
"There is a negative perception of the continent of Africa and a negative perception of Africans themselves. When they have an opportunity to come learn about the continent and the people -- Africans -- they're not near as backwards as has been presented. We try as much as possible to erase the 'Tarzan' jungle mentality, if you will."
By visiting the museum, visitors black and white have an opportunity to learn many new things. "Very often, I've heard people remark, 'I didn't know this. ...' Well, yes, that's the reason why we're doing what we're doing."
Heritage Towers is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and until 8 p.m. Friday. Admission is $7.50 for adults, $6.50 for students with ID, and $5.50 for children and seniors. Call 304-343-3250.
Reach Douglas Imbrogno at doug...@cnpapers.com or 304-348-3017.