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Posts Tagged ‘Jackson Ward’

First let me say, Wow.  Over 1000 fans in just under 5 days.  I am humbled, honored, and ok flat out scared!  But really, I hope I can continue to give you content that you find valuable.  Now, I’ve been stuck in the Richmond Convention Center for two days.  I don’t mean trapped, just here at a conference on how to do my day job better.  But today I snuck away at lunch to visit the Black History Museum.  We did just finish Black History Month so I thought it would be timely.  And to be honest, it is one of those places that I always see on the highway signs but have never really seen.  In fact, I think most people haven’t seen it since someone stopped me as I was going in and asked me “Is there really anything interesting in there?”  I told him “I’m going to go find out!”  The answer was definitely yes. 

The Museum is located in the heart of Jackson Ward at 00 Clay Street, Richmond, VA 23219.  (The “oo” is not a typo, it is located between 1st and Adams Streets. ) The main floor has a permanent exhibition dedicated to  the history and legacy of Jackson Ward.  You start with a 10 minute video on the history of the area.  The video is sort of a makeshift setup, but get past that and really watch.  The information is fascinating, especially for a history-buff like me.  Did you know that Jackson Ward was one of the first settlements for free Blacks South of Washington, D.C.?  It was also one of the few places that Blacks and Whites lived together before the Civil War.  I’m not going to tell you everything because I want you to go see for yourself, but the video focuses on how after Jim Crow took effect, Jackson Ward became a city within a city where African-American businesses and entertainment flourished.

After the video ended, I went on a self-guided tour of the 3 floors of the museum.  Like I mentioned, the first floor was dedicated to African-American businesses, Churches, education, entertainment, and overall contributions.  If you like to really see old “things” like me, they had the Woolworth’s lunch counter  where Black students staged a sit-in during the Civil Rights Movement and the “Blacks only” pew from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. 

The top level of the museum has rotating exhibits throughout the year.  The current exhibit, Take Our Stand is dedicated to chronicling the African-American Experience in the military during Jim Crow.  Most of this exhibit is written and I found myself longing for more information.  But as the Museum points out, there is a “scarcity of written records on the black experience in Virginia,” and this museum is one of the few permanent repositories of visual, oral, and written records covering those experiences.  My favorite part of the top level was an area where visitors, and I imagine school kids can post their thoughts and feelings about what they are learning at the Musuem.  Here is just a snippet that I thought summed it up pretty good. 

The bottom level also has rotating exhibits, which appear to focus on local artists of the time.  There is currently an interesting Painting Exhibit by a local artist named Darrick Claiborne . 

The Museum was founded in 1981 but was moved to its current location in 1991, in what used to be a private home.  It is open Tuesday-Saturday 10-5pm.  Admission is $5 Adults, $4 seniors, students, & teachers, and $3 for children 12 yrs and under.  There are rotating exhibits throughout the year.  You can view the Calendar of Events here.  All tours are self-guided unless requested in advance.  I’m not sure I’d recommend the Museum for young children, I know my son would have grabbed & touched everything he could.  But for school age children and up, what a wonderful way to learn more about the City we live in and its role in history.

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