An “Amazon” event took place on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 as e-commerce giant Amazon presented a $10,000 donation to The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum to close out Black History Month. During the month of February, Amazon’s Sparrows Point Fulfillment Center obtained seven wax figurines from the museum.
The display of the wax figures was spearheaded by Amazon’s Black Employee Network’s (BEN). The mission of BEN is to recruit, retain and empower Black employees. BEN also connects members with mentors and provides career and personal development workshops.
The presentation was a celebration of two instrumental Black institutions within Baltimore, and a thank you for inroads they have created for the African American community.
“At Amazon we are customer obsessed,” said Mike Sanders, Amazon Black Employee Network Chair. “We think big, and we stand alongside our customers to help solve big issues. This includes supporting organizations that make a difference, like The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum. We believe it’s meaningful and impactful to give back locally, and we’ll continue to look for ways to be good neighbors.”
Located at 1601-1603 E. North Avenue, the museum was established in 1983 by Dr. Joanne Martin and her late husband, Dr. Elmer Martin. The museum is the first wax museum of African American history in the nation. The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum is gearing up for a multi-million dollar facility. Described as the cornerstone of a vibrant revitalization initiative in the East Baltimore corridor, these efforts include 25,000 square feet of new construction. Amazon’s $10,000 donation will go toward youth outreach and program expansion.
“I was pleased to be involved in a project initiated by Amazon’s Black Employees Network who made sure that Black History Month was recognized at their place of work,” said Dr. Martin. “They are trying to make sure that our history is preserved. It’s always good when a younger generation is concerned with that and are using their power and influence to ensure that happens.”
BEN also engages with the local and regional chapters of the National Society of Black Engineers, leads recruiting initiatives with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and partners with other organizations. In 2018, two members of the BEN leadership team raised a business idea, which then became their full time jobs. They created a team that launched the black haircare store, Textures & Hues, on Amazon.
“Allowing us to have our wax figures on exhibit gave us wonderful visibility and I am grateful for that opportunity,” said Dr. Martin. The $10,000 will help us to meet some needs. I thank Amazon for their generosity.”
The immersive exhibit showcased prominent colleges and universities, organizations and trailblazers. The wax figures included Baltimore Times Publisher Joy Bramble. A journalism pioneer, Bramble founded this free weekly newspaper in 1986 along with her husband Peter Bramble. Like the Martins, the Brambles started their pioneering business on a shoestring budget.
“The event was fantastic,” said Joy Bramble. “It was wonderful to see that Amazon recognizes what Black businesses are doing. I am very excited that a big business like Amazon sees the contributions of the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum and opened a gateway for people around the country to see some of its wax figures. I applaud them for not only providing this wonderful opportunity, but for providing this beloved institution with a monetary donation.”