THOMASVILLE — The Jack Hadley Black History Museum has been awarded a $243,779 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
“This has been a long journey for me to see the museum receive an award of $243,7799. God has been so good to the museum for over the 38 years we have been open,” said Jack Hadley, The Black History Museum founder and curator.
The IMLS has awarded the museum a total of four grants over the past three years and has continued to support African American Museums to help communities stay educated with African American history.
“The IMLS has been a key supporter of our work by awarding several thousands of dollars to the museum for all our projects, making our community Thomas County more aware of the African American history and culture,” he said.
The grant money will go toward creating two new museum positions, the first full-time paid director position, and a consultant who will assist with board development. It also will help maintain the museum educator position.
“I cannot leave out the first museum educator who set the path for our museum education program, Mr. JaMarcus Underwood, who developed the museum’s first outreach educational program to area schools,” Hadley said. “Now Mr. Daniel Pittman fills that position and has continued creating new ideas and virtual programs and shares them with schools, community nursing homes, and other organizations.”
Pittman said he is very thankful that the museum received the grant and knows it will go to good use for more than just the museum.
“I think that it’s an absolute blessing,” he said. “I know that it’s something that is not only going to benefit the Jack Hadley Black History Museum but also it’s going to benefit the community because it just ensures that the museum will be able to be sustainable for the foreseeable future.”
Hadley said the museum would not have received the grant without his museum consultant Melanie Martin, who wrote the grant and is responsible for getting them approved by the IMLS. He also is thankful for the support from the community.
“I thank our community in Thomas County, all of our North Florida-Tallahassee supporters, museum members, donors, businesses, foundations, and philanthropists, and Thomasville Visitor Center and staff, and related offices for all of their support. I also thank my 2,300 contacts across the United States who support the museum through their generous donations,” he said.
The Black History Museum also has been supported by the Hadley family for many years and Hadley said without them the museum wouldn’t exist.
“Lastly, I thank my wife Christine Hadley, we have been married for 64 years, and my three great adult children, Cathy, Jim and Jackie, son-in-law, Eugene Wilson; my grandchildren, and my siblings,” he said. “Most of all, we would not have this museum if it were not for my son Jim Hadley, who, as a junior in high school in Wiesbaden, Germany in 1979, came home complaining about the absence of Black History Week. As concerned parents, we pulled together pictures from Ebony, Jet, Essence, and the Pittsburgh Courier paper and created the first exhibit for his school. The rest is history and is what you see today in 2021.”
Hadley also extended an invitation to the public to come to the museum to see all of its exhibits.