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Blacks in Classics Museum Joins Old Town’s Living Water Center

Alexandra Zeppeiro is this year’s Anna Julia Cooper intern at the Living Water Center. (Photos courtesy of the Living Water Center)

Alexandria, VA – On June 18, the Living Water Center opened its doors to a new museum highlighting the Black intellectual tradition through history. The museum will open in several installments, featuring artwork by classically trained artist Vanessa Withun and depicting prominent African Americans through history, from the Classical period through American captivity and up to today’s social justice movement.

The current Anna Julia Cooper Internship recipient at the Living Water Center, Alexandra Zeppeiro, says that the LWC is “a center where the Black intellectual tradition could be defined. This museum will be where this story can be showcased for years to come. [Our founder] wanted to take back this narrative taken away from Black people.”

Damon and Dr. Anika Prather founded the Living Water Center in 2015.

In 2015, Damon and Dr. Anika Prather founded the Living Water School, which combines free learning and classical studies environments in Maryland. The school functioned at its brick-and-mortar Maryland location until 2020, then went online to accommodate COVID-19 safety measures. That was not at a loss, however, because the online transition allowed more out of state families to join. The Living Water School became an official K12 school and found a new home in Old Town Alexandria. It has since broadened its offerings and is now known as the Living Water Center.

Anika, having taught in classical schools for ten years before founding the Living Water School, wanted another way to expand upon her school’s classical element. This year, for Juneteenth, she debuted the Blacks in Classics Museum at the Living Water Center.

The Blacks in Classics Museum will be open every Friday-Sunday from 7 pm-10 pm

The first installment of the Blacks in Classics Museum focuses on the classical era of the Western Canon—think Ancient Greece and Rome, Socrates, Virgil, and Homer. This exhibit opened on Saturday, June 18, at 7 pm.

Zeppeiro explains, “The museum will be a space to showcase this story to not only Black people; it is open to anyone. It is intellectual yet easy to understand, so kids can come too.”

Each future installment will open as Withun finishes her art, which will include portraits of icons like Frederick Douglas, Barrack Obama, and Tony Morrison. Vanessa will paint the likenesses in stages, so her work can be witnessed in concurrence with the work of the Black artists who came before her. Some of her other works can be viewed at

Vanessa Withun is the classically trained artist painting portraits at the museum.

As the museum comes together, the center will facilitate discussions about different featured leaders and host events regarding the depicted Blacks in classics.

The new Blacks in Classics Museum came together just in time for the Juneteenth weekend. It will be open every weekend, from Friday-Sunday, 7 pm-10 pm. It is free and open to the public. To learn more about the Living Water Center and all that it offers, visit

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