New Mexico Distinguished Public Service Awards 2012
Recognizing Those Committed to Making a Difference
Rita Powdrell
A 40 year resident of New Mexico and University of New Mexico graduate (B.S.), Rita Powdrell is the co-owner of Mr. Powdrells’ BBQ House and is the co-founder and President of the New Mexico African American Museum and Cultural Center. Rita has worked diligently over the past decade to further awareness of African American history in our multicultural state.

In the early 1990’s Rita became interested in the early African American settlers in New Mexico. She partnered and formed The Griot Society researching African American history which featured oral and pictorial histories of original founding families in Albuquerque. The Griot Society collaborated with Friends of Many Cultures to exhibit the African American Journey in New Mexico as well as partnering with the Hispanic Cultural Center creating the African Presence in Mexico exhibit. The Griot Society partnered with the African American Museum and Cultural Center of New Mexico in 2002.

As founder and presidentof the African American Museum and Cultural Center of New Mexico, Rita has led the board of directors throughout New Mexico to bring awareness of the role of African Americans in New Mexico. Among her most noteworthy accomplishments is a traveling exhibit entitled New Mexico’s African American Legacy.Continuing research on contributions of African American in sports, as well as in the railroad and mining industries, and history from segregation to reservation to integration are all an integral part of this organization. Rita coordinates events throughout New Mexico, creating symposiums that include a thematic cultural program and reception, lectures and/or panel discussions and are designed to identify and preserve oral histories for addition to future museum exhibits.