Within the last two weeks I have been impressed by the outpouring of support for the Carter G. Woodson Museum. Ironically during the controversy surrounding the museum, this community has lost two individuals whom have made significant contributions to the African-American community: Chris Styles and Ernest Williams.
After reading about Chris’ contributions in the Tampa Bay Times, reflections of others who have made significant contributions to this community started to bring fond memories of many to mind. Just a sampling of these pioneers and institutions included names such as Willie Lee McAdams, Happy Workers, Paul Barco Sr., The Courageous 12, Don McRae, Rev. Enoch D. Davis, Second Bethel, Bethel A.M.E., Elder Jordan, Jordan Park Elementary, 16th St. Jr. High, Gibbs Gladiators, Lew Williams, Angela Bassett, Geech’s Barbeque, Grogan’s Food Store, Chief Cornita Riley, Issac Tampa, Sidney Harding, Omaili Yeshitela, Silvers Shoe Store, Attorney Morris Milton, Eddie James Martin, Enoch Martin, Louis Brown Sr., Joe Savage, Irvin Sanchez, Sr. Horace Nero, Robert Creal, Dr.’s Pharmacy, Cleveland Johnson, Minson Rubin, Royal Theatre, Kanika Jelks-Tomalin, P.J. Benton-Danzy, Gene Danzy, Ethel Johnson, Peggy Peterman, Frank Peterman, Doug Jamerson, Roosevelt Carter, Judge James, B. Sanderlin, Robert Scruggs, David Welch, Ken Welch, The Florida Spiritulaires, Goldie Thompson, Negro Baseball, Sydney Scruggs, Kenneth Leon, Charlie Mays, Sam Mays, C. Bette Wimbish, Ruby Singletary, Ernest Filliyau, Bobby Ayers, Alumnae Singers, Cecil Odom, Jet Jackson, Rene Flowers, Darryl Rouson, Dr. Goliath Davis, Mattie Everett … the list goes on and on!
During and after these reflective moments something struck me odd, I could only recall the legacies of these pioneers and particularly those that have gone on to be with the Lord, in their obituaries, not at the Carter G. Woodson Museum.
While the future of the Carter G. Woodson is uncertain, I am certain that people from around the world would appreciate and celebrate our history, which reaches far beyond the “Deuces” and the Manhattan Casino.
Wikipedia defines a museum as “an institution that cares for (conserves) a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary.”
Carter Godwin Woodson was a historian, author and a journalist; if we are going to follow in his legacy, it is imperative that once the Carter G. Woodson’s board of directors gets its legs under them again, for them not to lose sight of the founder’s legacies for whom they are named. There is nothing new about museums hosting events, as an alternative revenue source, but every event must be an opportunity to educate and engage its users as a marketing strategy.
The board must understand in times of limited public resources and increased public need, three words reign supreme: Accountability, collaboration and inclusion!