The Jacksonville African-American Museum will be open over the mid-day today for tours as part of the observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Local historian and museum board member Art Wilson says people should come take a tour of the museum: “We’ll be celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Day today by opening up from 11:30AM-1:30PM, allowing people to come in and see some of the new exhibits we have. We have a lot of information on Dr. King and his journey that we are all still trying to continue with and hopefully can continue on with his blessings and his ideas of what he wanted us all to be about as it occurred and it is still obviously is going on today. We want people to focus on not just the fact that this is a holiday, but this is a day for all people directing for everybody to come together and understand each other, not be divided by our race or color, but united by the things that created this whole country and all of our ideas and beliefs and stuff, without one group or the other, certain things would not exist today that do.”
Wilson says the museum has a variety of new items on display: “We actually have some slave cuffs that came from O’Brien’s Auction House where Mr. O’Brien would sell slaves and he would have his cuffs on the slaves, and then, when he sold them, he would remove them and the people that bought them would put their own cuffs on. We had those donated to us. We have bricks that were actually made by slaves also that are here now in the museum. We have a cabinet that was built in the 1700s that was donated to us, and a bunch of new pictures by artists that some people will known, some people will never have heard of before; but they deal with black art and how they were portraying people at different times in portraits.”
Wilson says some events are in the works for February for the celebration of Black History Month. Wilson says learning about Black history is important now more than ever because some people simply have never been told or are unaware: “I see it. I hear it here. I hear it when I’m at Woodlawn Farm working out there. It’s not basically because of the individuals themselves. It’s just how certain aspects of history or speech have just been deleted out of their lives. I get people that come out to Woodlawn Farm, people from here, that are in their 70s-75 years old that have never even heard of the Underground Railroad, never even heard of a lot of these Black individuals and inventors. There is just a whole race of people that’s been totally deleted from their historic understanding of their inclusion or who they were or why they were protesting, Black Lives Matter. I mean they just don’t have it. Like I said, it’s not any fault of their own. It’s through a lack of teaching, lack of educating. Now, that’s becoming more of a thing. Now, they don’t really want those things to be known or being taught.”
To find out more about Jacksonville African-American history and Black history in general, Wilson says to come to the museum and ask questions. The Jacksonville African-American Museum is located at 859 Grove Street in the Asa Talcott House.