“A dazzling sashed gold gown holds court in the center of an upstairs gallery in the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia. A second dress, another concert garment owned by contralto Marian Anderson, swathes a headless burgundy velvet mannequin in long layers of dark fabric bejeweled with sequined flora.

Look at them long enough, and it almost feels as if Anderson, daughter of Virginia-born parents and the first black singer to perform at the New York Metropolitan Opera, is in the room.

Part of BHMVA’s exhibition “Yesterday’s Stories, Today’s Inspiration,” the 1950s-era gowns are two artifacts among several items from trailblazing African-Americans. Open since February and running through Aug. 31, “Yesterday’s Stories” pays homage to the past while inspiring current and future innovators …”

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