It has been a busy month at the Jack Hadley Black History Museum.
More than 1,500 students have come through the doors to learn more about the accomplishments of local and national African-Americans.
Churches and schools from Thomasville, Tallahassee, Fla., Albany, Camilla, Havana, Fla., Valdosta and Tifton have walked through the museum this month. Jack Hadley also has visited local and non-local schools and churches, taking different artifacts from the museum to share with audiences.
The museum has been so busy this month that events spilled over into March.
This year’s theme is “Civil Rights in America.”
Since it is the 50th anniversary since President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History selected the theme to mark the historic, life-changing event.
Tours at the museum generally last an hour and a half. For 15 minutes, each group of students learned different facts about the many exhibits. Volunteer tour guides and staff members taught students and chaperones about each exhibit.
One exhibit was taught by Richard Hadley, a museum board member and Jack Hadley’s brother.
On Thursday, 130 fourth-graders from Bond Elementary School in Tallahassee visited the museum.
Richard talked to the group about African-American schools, various educators, doctors, organization leaders and musical instruments.
He told stories of being a student at Douglass High School, integration and the instruments he grew up listening to and their history, such as the harmonica, steel drum and saxophone.
One “instrument” that intrigued the students the most was the Hadleys’ grandfather’s slave bullhorn, which he actually used while being a slave. It was his responsibility to call the slaves in at the end of the day or for meals by blowing the bullhorn. Richard demonstrated to students what the bullhorn sounded like.
The bullhorn has been in the Hadley family for more than 150 years. It is now housed in the museum as one of the Jack Hadley’s most prized pieces.
Since the museum’s opening in 2006, curator and founder Jack Hadley has taken much pride in educating the community about black history, especially because so much black history has been lost over the years.
He said, “The museum exposes youth to how African-Americans have helped to shape the history of our country. I want to educate both black and white students. I’m here to educate the kids as a supplement to the school system, so they can see what the black community has accomplished.”
After opening the museum, Hadley discovered there wasn’t a place like his in Thomasville or even many in the country that highlight African-American national history and local history.
“Whatever was happening in the country was also happening in Thomasville,” said Hadley.
His hopes are that one day the museum will melt into one museum that covers all Americans — black and white — and that children will see there is hope for them.
To show youth’s accomplishments in the community, he created a wall to showcase their successes. The wall is made up of newspaper clippings and awards.
Black History Month originated as Negro History Week in 1926, through the leadership of historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson, founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). He sought to create an observance to recognize and honor the heritage, accomplishments and contributions made by African-Americans to American society.
Reporter Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1826.