“For Our Own Good” Opens on Juneteenth

Annual Celebration Features Exhibit on Local Civic and Social Clubs, Activities for Youth at Legacy’s New Activity Center.

“For Our Own Good: The History and Culture of African American Civic and Social Groups in Central Virginia” opened on Saturday, June 20, as part of Lynchburg’s annual Juneteenth freedom and heritage celebration.

One hundred sixty-five people visited the exhibit during Juneteenth, the largest number ever at a Legacy opening. Many of these visitors were attending a Legacy exhibit for the first time.

During the day-long celebration, 35 young people participated in three workshops at Legacy’s new Activity Center. Ed Mikenas presented “Interactive Drumming to the Edge of Leadership,” Delano Douglas told stories, and members of the Black Theatre Ensemble of Virginia led participants in African American slave songs and ring games.

Along with the exhibit opening, the Juneteenth celebration also included black history tours of the Old City Cemetery and a health and safety fair.

Using images, artifacts, and interpretive text dealing with 150 organizations active in Central Virginia since 1870, the Legacy Museum’s eighth major exhibit shows how civic and social groups were established to meet African Americans’ social, political, and economic needs. “For Our Own Good” explores the vital importance of such groups in defining values and leadership status during the Jim Crow era and afterwards.

The exhibit represents ten months of work by more than 75 individuals, African American and white, who donated, lent, or collected artifacts, or who otherwise worked on the project, which was funded by grants from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Dianne Swann-Wright, director and founding curator of the Frederick Douglass – Isaac Myers Maritime Park in Baltimore, was guest curator. Assisting her were consultants Lauranett Lee, curator of African American History for the Virginia Historical Society; Katherine Chavigny, associate professor of history at Sweet Briar College; and designer Betsy-Johnson Whitten, formerly curator of collections at the Lynchburg Museum and now a free-lance museum professional.

Research and Collection Committee members included Cordelia Alexander, Carolyn Bell, Edwina Beverley, Carolyn Brown, Clarence Brown, Cornelia Campbell, Frances B. Carter, W.E. Clark III, Ted Delaney, Joyce Dixon, Yvonne Ferguson, Gloria Franklin, Cynthia Hall, Dr. David Harris, Claudette Haskins, Alice Mabry, Ora McCoy, Phyllistine Mosley, Toni Pate, Annie Pinn, Emmie Spencer, Georgia Swann, Willie Thornhill, and Elaine Watson. Other committee members were Cory Alderton, Natalie Cutchen, Emily Green, Elisa Marani, and Amanda Strickland, history students at Sweet Briar College.

The following Legacy supporters donated or lent artifacts: Luddie Adams, Cordelia Alexander, Catherine Anderson, Howard Anderson, Ann Bailey, Louise Barnes, Carolyn Bell, Edwina Beverley, Patricia Brice, Carolyn Brown, Cilla Brown, Evelyn Brown, Howard Butler, Cornelia Campbell, Gloria Cannady, Carrie Cardwell, Frances Carter, W.E. Clark III, George and Esther Claxton, Barbara Cofield, Patricia Dabney, Joyce Dixon, Elaine Duke, Charlie Elliott (deceased), Yvonne Ferguson, Eric R. Franklin, Gloria Franklin, Dr. David Harris, Sallie Harvey, Claudette Haskins, Edna Hayden, Jewell Hicks, Lucy Hicks, Ricky Hicks, John W. Hughes III, Virginia Hughes (deceased), Alma Irvine, Annie Smith Jefferson (deceased), Thelma Jennings, Ceasor Johnson, Rosie Spann Johnson, Audrey Lenon, Alice Mabry, Phyllistine Mosley, Beulah Payne, Annie Pinn, William T. Pinn (deceased), Kevin Royal, Adelaide Scott, Emmie Spencer, Joan Spencer, Margaret Thomas, Michael Thomas, Bessie Thompson, Willie Thornhill, Elaine Watson, Amanda Williams, Reginald Williams, and Gladys Woodson.

“For Our Own Good” will close on May 29, 2009.

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