02/06/08 — Black history exhibit open at museum

View Archive

Black history exhibit open at museum

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on February 6, 2008 1:45 PM

A black history exhibit featuring local artifacts that describe the black experience in Wayne County from slavery to the present opened this week at the county Museum on William Street.

Museum manager Johnna Nelson said the items in the exhibit date from the 1850s to the Civil Rights Movement and on to the present, including multi-generational photo albums from historical black communities in the county such as Little Washington and Parkstown.

Mrs. Nelson said the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s affected many cities in the South, and Goldsboro was no exception. She said the exhibit includes a display containing a letter to the editor published in the News-Argus two years ago by Milas Kelly Sr. In it, Kelly gave a firsthand account of a sit-in that occurred at local "white only" movie theaters in 1959 that ended with police arresting a number of black demonstrators.

Kelly said he and several other protesters took seats in the "white only" movie theaters, eventually to be arrested by police.

Times have changed dramatically since that day, Mrs. Nelson said, but the lessons learned over the past half-century should not be forgotten, she said. Exhibits such as the one constructed at the museum provide young people with a way to connect to those times, she said.

"What a different city we live in today," Mrs. Nelson said. "Yes, racism still rears its ugly head occasionally. But the Civil Rights Movement provided a new and better way of life for many fine citizens in Wayne County."

The public is invited to view the exhibit, which will remain open until Feb. 28. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Mrs. Nelson said people who once lived in places like Parkstown and Little Washington especially will likely enjoy reminiscing as they pore through the albums on loan to the museum.