A new museum is opening soon with the mission of telling more of the history of Jacksonville’s people of color.
The Jacksonville African American History Museum will celebrate its grand opening this Saturday. The museum has been established in the Asa Talcott House on Grove Street, which itself is a major piece of Jacksonville’s history with the Underground Railroad.
Art Wilson with the Jacksonville African American History Museum says the Asa Talcott House is a perfect location for the museum. The house was purchased by Talcott in 1833 and used extensively as a stop on the Underground Railroad.
Wilson says, however, that there is much more to the museum than just the history of the Underground Railroad in Jacksonville.
“We did the museum in kind of like a timeline type frame. It starts out coming through the kitchen area and it is set up like a timeline of Blacks coming out of slavery coming into reconstruction and things they had in times as we progressed. We were usually about ten years behind Whites in getting like if they were using an electric skillet, we were using regular skillets, things like that.
Then it progresses into what we call the Underground Railroad Room, and it talks about slavery and abolitionists. I think people are going to see a lot of things that you don’t learn in the classroom about slavery and the Underground Railroad movement.
From there it goes into the Civil Rights portion of it. Which we are really proud of that because it reflects on a lot of things and then transitions into more of the local history room. Where we have people like Phyllis Hamilton who is from Jacksonville, and she became the Chief Justice over the Northern District of California, appointed by Bill Clinton, as well as a lot of other famous Blacks who went off and did well who were from here.”
The museum also covers the local celebrations of Juneteenth as well as a room dedicated to the history of Black Jacksonville natives who served in the military. General Benjamin Grierson’s role in it, the Buffalo Soldiers, and the Harlem Hell Fighters are featured among others.
The Jacksonville African American History Museum will host a grand opening and ribbon cutting this Saturday at 1:00 pm. Creston Whitaker will be the featured speaker. Whitaker is a Jacksonville native who played in the NFL for the New Orleans Saints and L.A. Rams.
Transportation will be available between the museum and the Jacksonville Juneteenth Celebration that will be going on downtown Saturday beginning with the dedication of the Dr. Alonzo Kenniebrew Mural at 11:00 am.
Wilson says the museum is a work in progress and his team of volunteers was able to put it together in just three months’ time. He says the museum focuses on Jacksonville’s African American History but is open to everyone, especially the youth in the area.
“The thing is is just that so many Blacks from Jacksonville went off and accomplished so many things that they didn’t have the opportunity while they were here. So I’m glad to be able to bring their stories and their positions in life back here in the hope to generate thought for younger Blacks and younger people of every color and race, that you can go out and do things and become successful.”
The Grand Opening of the Jacksonville African American History Museum will be held this Saturday, June 18th at 3:00 pm, located in the Asa Talcott House at 859 West Grove Street. The museum is free with a suggested donation of five dollars per visitor with children five and under free of charge.