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March 14, 2022

The Classic Car Club of America Museum Opens Exhibit focusing on the Harlem Renaissance

Bo Jangles Duesenberg
Bill BoJangles Robinson’s 1935 Duesenberg Model JN. On loan from Rob Hilarides, Visalia, CA. Photo credit: Rob Hilarides.

Opening on April 1, 2022 the Classic Car Club of America Museum will present the exhibition, Experiencing American Luxury of the Harlem Renaissance. The CCCAM Museum is located on the campus of the Gilmore Car Museum, 6965 W. Hickory Rd, Hickory Corners, MI 49060. The show will run through October 30, 2022. The exhibition will focus on many aspects of Harlem of the 1920’s and 30’s, including the career and the automobile owned by Bill BoJangles Robinson, the most well-known African American entertainer of the period.

The origins of the Harlem Renaissance began with the Great Migration of the early 20th century, when hundreds of thousands of African Americans migrated from the Jim Crow Era South into concentrated East Coast and Midwestern urban centers that offered more economic opportunities and cultural resources. It was, as editor, journalist, and critic Alain Locke identified, “a spiritual coming of age” for African American artists and intellectuals, who captured their “first chances for group expression and self-determination.”

The exhibition, curated by Museum Director Don Desmett, will present historic information on the New York City neighborhood that encompassed only a small footprint of New York City, but abounded with black artists, intellectuals, writers, and musicians. Black-owned establishments, from newspapers, publishing companies, to nightclubs/cabarets and music recording venues and theaters, all helped to invigorate the Harlem cultural landscape.

As for the “Bojangles” Duesenberg, its history begins in early 1935, when the New York coachbuilder Rollston shipped a five-passenger berline body to the Duesenberg factory in Auburn, Indiana. In spring 1935, Duesenberg prepared and delivered the car to the New York factory store, where Bill Robinson promptly bought it for $17,500 (approximately $306,000 today). He then had it shipped to Bohman & Schwartz, the Pasadena coachbuilder, where it received new bumpers, headlamps, and parking lights.

This exhibition will also be part of the June 5, 2022 CCCAM event, Experiencing American Luxury. CCCAM will engage the public with a Classics Era Car Show, live Jazz music, cigar rolling and tastings, bourbon tastings from some of the best of Southwest Michigan’s Craft Distilleries, arts activities, riding in classic cars and, tours of the CCCAM recently opened 11,000 sq. ft. addition and exhibition of the museum’s Permanent Collection.

For further information, visit the CCCAM website or call the Museum at (269) 671-5333.