Southampton African American Museum Opens Up Its Doors After Years Of Planning

The new Southampton African American Museum (SAAM) held a VIP reception and ribbon cutting to celebrate their historic opening.

After sixteen years of planning, the transformed barbershop to Museum opened its doors for a community cultural experience highlighting incredible journeys of black people along unchartered paths from Virginia and the Carolinas north to Southampton, NY.

Prior to the event, philanthropist, donor, and volunteer fundraiser for the museum, Jean Shafiroff, donated $10,000 and raised another $20,000.

The funds Jean helped secure is more than a third of their budget of $85,000 to run the museum on an annual basis.

During her speech at the grand opening, she encouraged people to open their wallets and their hearts to contribute to the fundraising efforts which they graciously did.

Mr. Emanuel Seymore was one of the people involved in the renowned “Great Migration,” the movement of 6 million African Americans out of the rural Southern United States to the urban Northeast, Midwest and West that occurred between 1916 and 1970.

The renovated former site of Mr. Seymore’s Barbershop on North Sea Road is now the home of the Southampton African American Museum.

The grand opening of the museum saw philanthropists, politicians, and artists come together for this historic occasion.

Notable attendees included: Philanthropist Jean Shafiroff, Co-founder and Executive Director of SAAM Brenda Simmons, Randy Conquest, Board President Nancy Stevens-Smith, Treasurer Stephanie Hill, James Banks, Brenda Stuart-Luke, Stephen Luke, Brigette Fleming, Fred Thiele, Jason Richberg, Theresa Santoro, Jesse Warren, Jay Schneiderman, Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright, Jay Herschenson, Martin Shafiroff, Susan Taylor and Khephra Burns, Artist Siamak Samii, Dede Gotthelf of the Southampton Inn, and Peter Marino.

The ceremony began with a brief history of the museum and the space it occupies. The presentation started with Co-Founder and Executive Director of SAAM, Brenda Simmons.

Many public officials spoke after Brenda expressing their support and importance of the museum.

Afterward, Jean Shafiroff spoke and asked those in attendance to help with the fundraising efforts.

Professor and author of the book, “Cutting Along the Color Line Black Barbers and Barber Shops in America,” Quincy Mills, was the keynote speaker for the evening. Flutist extraordinaire Dwayne Kerr supplied the music.

Jean Shafiroff is a philanthropist, humanitarian, TV host, writer, and the author of the book “Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life By What You Give”.

Jean is often referred to as “the first lady of philanthropy” by the press because of her generosity and extensive work as a volunteer fundraiser and leader in the philanthropic world.

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She serves on the boards of many charitable organizations and each year chairs upwards of eight different charity galas.

Among the many causes she champions are those involved in women’s rights, rights of the underserved, health care, and animal welfare.

Jean serves on the boards of the American Humane, Southampton Hospital Association, NYC Mission Society, French Heritage Society, Couture Council of the Museum at FIT, Global Strays, and Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation Honorary Board.

A Catholic, she served on the board of the Jewish Board for 28 years and now is one of their honorary trustees.

In addition, Jean is an ambassador for American Humane and is the national spokesperson for the organization’s “Feed the Hungry” Covid-19 program, an initiative designed to provide food for 1,000,000 shelter animals.

Jean is the ambassador of the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation and a key donor and volunteer fundraiser for their work.

She is a New York Women’s Foundation Board Alumna who remains very active with the Foundation and with women’s issues in general.

For her philanthropy, Jean has been honored many times by groups including the Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, New York City Mission Society, Southampton Animal Shelter, Surgeons of Hope, Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, the Ellen Hermanson Foundation, Pet Philanthropy Circle, Animal Zone International, Youth Counselling League, the NYC International Film Festival Foundation, the Jewish Board, and the Hadassah.

In December 2020 Dan’s Paper named her Philanthropist of the Year at their Long Island Power Women’s Award Ceremony.

Jean is the producer and host of the television show “Successful Philanthropy” which airs six times weekly through LTV studios in East Hampton, NY, as well as in New York City on Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN): Spectrum Channel 34 and 1995, Verizon/FiOS Channel 33, and RCN Channel 82.

The show will open in additional markets in 2021.

On her TV program, Jean interviews an eclectic mix of leaders in the world of philanthropy as well as actors, artists, business and civic leaders, and even a U.S. presidential candidate report Tyler Paper.

Photo credit: 1) Brenda Stuart-Luke, Brenda Simmons, Jean Shafir. 2) Susan Taylor, Khephra Burns. 3) Quincy Mills. 4) Jessie Warren, and Jay Schneiderman. 5) Siamak Samii. 6)  Jean Shafiroff, and Rebecca A. Seawright. 7) Southampton African American Museum opening. By Patrick McMullan


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