Henrietta Marie Exhibition Receives Initial Corporate Sponsorships

Henrietta Marie Exhibition Receives Initial Corporate Sponsorships

September 21, 1999


Henrietta Marie: Diane Slaughter Hamilton, APR, 304.984.0308

Columbia Gas: Karl Brack, 304.357.2396

Bell Atlantic: Paul Miller, 304.344.0017

(CHARLESTON, WV) -- Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. and the Bell Atlantic Foundation today each announced major contributions to "A Slave Ship Speaks: The Wreck of the Henrietta Marie," a nationally touring museum exhibit coming to Charleston in March of 2000.

The companies are among the first to join with All-Aid International as major sponsors of the exhibit's West Virginia appearance at the West Virginia State Museum in Charleston. Each company is making a $10,000 financial contribution to the exhibit, as well as providing significant commitments of volunteer support and in-kind services, including the production of educational materials and technology about the exhibit for use throughout the state.

"We view this exhibit not just as an outstanding learning opportunity, but also as a chance to celebrate and share in the unique history and cultural diversity of West Virginia," said Catherine G. Abbott, President and CEO of Columbia Gas Transmission. "The Henrietta Marie exhibit not only tells the story of an integral part of American history, it offers an opportunity for the people of West Virginia to explore how the legacy of slavery shapes the world we live in today. ln "The tragedy that beset the enslaved souls aboard the Henrietta Marie has been closeted in time for far too long," said Dennis Bone, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic - West Virginia. "This is a story that should be told and shared among all West Virginians. The Bell Atlantic Foundation is proud to help make that happen. It is just another example of our ongoing commitment to foster a better appreciation of our cultural diversity."

Charles Minimah, chairman of All-Aid International, Inc., praised Columbia Gas Transmission, the Bell Atlantic Foundation and other contributors for recognizing the cultural opportunities created by the exhibit.

"Slavery is not solely a black issue. It has affected the lives of every American," Minimah explained. "The Henrietta Marie exhibition will offer each visitor an intimate perspective on an important time in history. We are grateful to our supporters for helping provide this opportunity for a broader dialog and healing within our community and state. ln The exhibit, which traces the history of the Henrietta Marie, a slave ship that wrecked off Key West, Fla., in 1700, will be featured at the West Virginia State Museum from March 25 to June 18, 2000. The critically acclaimed exhibition uses the vessel's artifacts as a focal point to examine the transatlantic slave trade, the conditions that spawned it and its impact on society. The underwater archaeology of the wreck site also is explored in the 3,000- square-foot exhibition. Discovered in 1972, the Henrietta Marie is considered the world's most important source of information from the early transatlantic slave trade.

Objects recovered from the ship include the ship's bell, iron shackles, glass beads, pewter ware, elephant tusks and weapons. The exhibition illustrates components of the slave trade, including a slave trader's office in London, a pewterer's workshop and a recreation of a section of the ship's hold in which enslaved Africans were packed for the transoceanic voyage.

The West Virginia appearance of the exhibition is presented by All-Aid International and The West Virginia Division of Culture and History. This exhibition has been sponsored by the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society.

Major funding has been provided by the Office of the Governor of West Virginia, the National Endowment for the Humanities; Florida Department of State, Bureau of Historical Museums; and the James L. and John S. Knight Foundation. General Motors Company is the national tour sponsor.
Columbia Gas Transmission, a unit of Columbia Energy Group, employs about 1,200 people in West Virginia, including about 800 in the Kanawha Valley. From its Operations and Commercial Support Headquarters in
Charleston, the company operates a 12,500-mile network of interstate natural gas pipelines and one of the nation's largest underground natural gas storage systems. Columbia Gas Transmission is in the final year of a three-year, $175 million expansion of its West Virginia operating facilities. Information about Columbia Energy Group (NYSE:CG) is available on the Internet at www.columbiaenergygroup.com.

The Bell Atlantic Foundation supports a variety of projects domestically and internationally, with an emphasis on new technology applications in education, health and human services, the arts and humanities, and civic development in the communities served by Bell Atlantic. For more information, visit www.bellatlanticfoundation.com on the Internet.