Timelines of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and the fight for equality stretch across the walls, pictures of the Obama family illustrate progress and newspaper clippings show significant local history throughout the walls of 15 W. 11th St.
It’s all part of the Madison County Historical Society’s Black History Month exhibit, but more importantly, it’s reflective of the area’s desire for equality.
The exhibit opened Jan. 20 and runs until Feb. 21. Visitors can take a step into the past 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Exhibit organizer Bonnie Collier said she learns more about African-American history when she plans the display every year.
“Information grows,” she said. “There’s no lack of information out there.”
The showcase has a blend of information on Madison County, national and international figures, from local basketball legend Jumpin’ Johnny Wilson to social reformer Frederick Douglass, who once gave a speech in Pendleton.
Collier, who has organized the Black History exhibit every year since 2006, said she added a Nelson Mandela portion this year partly because of the activist’s death in December. It was mainly, though, because of his leadership in the anti-apartheid revolution in South Africa.
“(I added it) basically out of respect for him because he was a very special person,” she said.
She also added a display for the Red Hat Society since there’s a local black chapter. Filled with purple clothing and red hats, it also includes a T-shirt that says, “Well behaved women rarely make history.”
But it also has artifacts and information regarding different time periods and parts of culture.
Books such as “For Whites Only,” “She Would Not be Moved” and “The American Negro” are on display. There’s also a wall labeled “The New Negro” that focuses on significant events from 1920-1939.
Collier said she started planning and organizing the exhibit in September.
Harry Kirchenbauer, publicity director for the Historical Society, said even with severe winter weather throughout January, the exhibit still opened on time. Now the concern is if people will brave the cold to attend.
“The weather does hamper it a bit,” he said.
The time of year is a big factor in attendance, he said. But it’s still important for the Historical Society to have the exhibit during Black History Month.
Collier said it’s a time and opportunity people to expand their knowledge.
“There’s a lot of stuff that wasn’t taught in school, and still isn’t taught in school,” she said. “There’s always something new to learn. Always.”
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