The Mountain View Hotel in Oracle, AZ

In the late 19th century, despite being Black in a region where few were of mixed race, the Neal family was among Tucson’s wealthiest self-made families. William “Curly” and Annie Neal opened the Mountain View Hotel in Oracle, AZ in 1895 as a luxury resort for people with tuberculosis and a retreat from Tucson’s summer heat. The hotel hosted prominent guests including celebrities and foreign dignitaries, The Neal family’s successful business pursuits were widely lauded in newspapers. The Mountain View Hotel was the first luxury resort in Arizona owned by Black entrepreneurs, securing the Neal family’s place in the state’s history.

In early April, Garry Davis and his daughter, Amy, led a couple of AAMSAZ members on a tour of the remarkable and more than a century old Mountain View Hotel in Oracle, AZ. Currently in need of repair, the hotel has a fascinating history including hosting famous guests like Buffalo Bill Cody. The hotel’s rich history and potential is nonetheless impressive. As the hotel’s current owner, Garry works tirelessly to protect the building from further decay. The Oracle Historical Society expressed interest in helping to preserve the hotel’s history and Garry welcomed their assistance.

The structure now abutting the hotel recently housed a church. Its roof is constructed entirely of double tongue and groove pine planks without insulation or an attic. Prior to the church, the previous occupant made some changes to the hotel including removing the original second floor wrap-around porch and adding a layer of stucco to the walls. However, some of the hotel’s original red bricks are still visible in certain areas.

Many of the original handrails in the three-story building and the stove are still in place along with the exquisite, indicative of the time, decorated ceilings. The hallway provides a sense of the grandeur and luxury that characterized the space over a century ago. Some of the second-floor rooms once featured stoves and one of the oldest fireplaces in Southern Arizona remains intact in one of the rooms. Although the building has cosmetic concerns that need attention, it is structurally sound and has the potential to last another hundred years without major renovations.

The Acadia Ranch building, which now houses the Oracle Historical Society, was also owned by the Neal family from 1914 until 1923. Originally, it was managed as a TB Sanitorium and later as a health resort. The Neal family’s contributions to Oracle history were significant, as were their connections to Tucson. Annie’s parents, Wiley and Hannah Box were among the earliest African Americans to settle in Tucson.

We would like to extend our gratitude to John, Diane, and the other board members of the Oracle Historical Society, as well as Garry and his daughter Amy from the Mountain View Hotel, for the wonderful tour they provided AAMSAZ. They were instrumental in making our visit a memorable and enriching experience.

Discover Bisbee, AZ, and Camp Naco: A PBS Special

Arizona Public Media’s Community Events Coordinator, Timna Guerchon, has announced that an upcoming episode of PBS Arizona Illustrated will feature stories centered around Bisbee, AZ, and Camp Naco. The camp has recently been granted several million dollars in funding for restoration projects that aim to honor its past and create a community center/history museum.

The special episode will air on Sunday, May 7, at 6:30 PM and will be re-aired multiple times throughout the week on PBS 6 and PBS 6 Plus. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to discover Bisbee and Camp Naco’s rich history and learn about their exciting plans for their future!

Student Voices: UA Students Speak Out about Social Justice and Empowerment

Diego Marquez and Morgan Rhett, members of the UA track team, were a part of the Pac-12’s Social Justice Experience in Selma & Montgomery, Alabama. They share their powerful insights about the trip and its impact in the video. 

Diego and Morgan’s voices testify to the importance of student engagement and activism in social justice issues. We are incredibly proud of their commitment to creating positive change and promoting inclusivity in our community. Let’s continue to amplify student voices and work towards a more just and equitable society.

Musical Melodies at Tucson HS

We hope you enjoyed the wonderful music! Your presence and support made the evening truly special and memorable.

It was a great pleasure for us to unite the Tucson High African American Culture Club and the immensely gifted Tucson High Jazz Band, Morani Sanders Quartet, and Angel Spencer for an unforgettable Evening of Musical Melodies. The performances were outstanding, highlighting the abundant musical abilities of our community.

Jack and Jill Teens of Tucson – Double Good – for AAMSAZ

Thank you so much for your support!  

We are so proud and GRATEFUL to the Jack and Jill Tucson Teens for selling $9641 in popcorn! Thank you to the AAMSAZ community for your support – their sales were poppin! Net proceeds totaled $4,820.50. The Jack and Jill Teens of Tucson are donating two-thirds of the funds, $3213.66, to AAMSAZ! Thank you… Jack and Jill Tucson Teens and Advisors, for this thoughtful and beautiful gift!

Supporting HBCUs

Founder Bob Elliott(the right), with NBA Hall of Fame Player Dr. J, Julius Erving(the left).

HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) supported by the NBA at All-Star Weekend. Thank you, NBA and the Pac 12 Initiative, for supporting HBCUs and the commitment to higher education.

We recognize the important role of HBCUs in African American history and highlight the ongoing efforts to support and uplift these institutions.

The event also featured a very special reunion between NBA Hall of Fame player Julius Erving (Dr. J) and AAMSAZ founder Bob Elliott. They were once roommates, and their reunion is a reminder of the rich history of African American excellence that has been achieved through sports and education.

Delta Sigma Theta Toured Museum with Delta Gems (Children)

The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Chapter in the Phoenix area toured the museum with more than 60 children to learn about African American history in Southern Arizona. Featured are the chaperones from the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority GEMS Academy, who accompanied the tour with the students.

The museum was honored to host an educational tour for over 60 children, organized by the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Chapter in the Phoenix area. The children, accompanied by chaperones from the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority GEMS Academy with museum volunteers, explored the museum’s exhibits and learned about the struggles and triumphs of African Americans in Southern Arizona.

At AAMSAZ, we offer educational and inspiring events that provide valuable insights and perspectives for children. We want to ensure that the children who attend our events leave with a deeper understanding of African Americans’ rich cultural heritage and history. By promoting cultural awareness and appreciation in our community, we plan to make a positive impact beyond the event itself.

Blax Friday Celebrated Black Vendors in Tucson

Blax Friday occurred at the Monica downtown this past Friday to honor and promote Black vendors in the Tucson community. Great ambiance and planning by Blax Friday Founder Ashley La Russa. The event featured a wide variety of Black-owned businesses.

Support Black-owned businesses in Tucson to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in our community. By investing in these businesses, you can help break down barriers and reduce economic disparities, create job opportunities, and drive economic growth. By supporting Black vendors, you can also gain a deeper understanding of diverse cultures and promote cultural understanding.

Black and Brown Health Fair

The Black and Brown Health Fair, presented by Alpha Phi Alpha and the Pima County Health Department Office of Health Equity, was held on Saturday, February 18, from 10-4 PM. This event aimed to provide health services, increase awareness and education about chronic health conditions, prevention, healthy living, oral health, maternal health, and general health and wellness—specifically focusing on Black and Brown Pima County residents. Former Intern Hassan represented AAMSAZ at the event. 

Hassan M., Former UA intern for AAMSAZ, stated:

Representing AAMSAZ at the Black and Brown Health fair was a great experience. I interacted with people of all ages, and people were intrigued to learn about the origins of the Museum

I relayed to them how Young Jody asked his Grandma(Beverely Elliott), ” Where is the museum I can go to here in Tucson to learn about African American people who lived around here?”.

People were surprised how this simple question led to AAMSAZ becoming the first and only African American Museum in Southern Arizona.

Museum Hosted Visit from NBA Hall of Fame and Legend

This past Thursday was exciting for the museum as it welcomed the NBA Hall of Fame and Legend Bill Walton for a tour.

NBA Hall of Fame and Legend, Bill Walton, stopped by the museum to get a tour where he was able to insert new things he learned into the broadcast during this past Thursday night’s UA Men’s Basketball game.

A special thank you to Bill, the U of A Men’s Basketball department, and the broadcasting team for offering a special feature of the newly opened museum.

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