African-American History: Program kicks off today at Summer Hill Heritage Museum
by Marie Nesmith
Feb 01, 2012 | 3031 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Students from the Summer Hill Educational and Recreational Complex’s after-school program listen to instructor Vyola Foster talk about marching with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the early ’60s while a college student. This month, the Summer Hill Heritage Museum is offering the African-American History: Past and Present program featuring presentations from noteworthy members of Bartow’s black community.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Students from the Summer Hill Educational and Recreational Complex’s after-school program listen to instructor Vyola Foster talk about marching with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the early ’60s while a college student. This month, the Summer Hill Heritage Museum is offering the African-American History: Past and Present program featuring presentations from noteworthy members of Bartow’s black community. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Through its African-American History: Past and Present program, the Summer Hill Heritage Museum is highlighting noteworthy members of Bartow's black community in hopes of broadening the career paths of today's youth. Even though the free, five-week offering is geared toward participants of the Summer Hill Educational and Recreational Complex's after-school program, people of all ages are invited to attend.

"Basically what we're doing is exposing the kids to some of ... the rich [African-American] history that the community has [and] what kind of entrepreneurs and business people and artists we have in the community," said Joy Hill, curator of the Summer Hill Heritage Museum. "[We also want them to] know what [careers are] available to them and know there are more options than just being a basketball player or a football player out there."

Starting today, the "oral and demonstrative history presentations" are being delivered Monday through Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m. The series will conclude on March 1 with Charles Wesley Foster's discussion on woodcarving.

"He has done this before," said Vyola Foster, one of the after-school program's instructors, about her husband, Charles. "He has gone to different schools in the past and given demonstrations and talked to them about what all it entails.

"It entails a lot of math and art in order to create the [woodcarving] pieces. ... Everybody is excited and everybody that I talked to about participating, they were just so [delighted] to have the opportunity to come and talk to the children."

In addition to the presentations, the Summer Hill Heritage Museum also is offering a Spoken Word Contest for all students in grades one through 12.

"This is something we do basically just to [encourage the students to] think and be creative," Hill said. "It can be an original piece or they can read something from Nikki Giovanni if they want to. It just has to be pertaining to black history."

Once the participants deliver their submissions on Feb. 26 at the Cartersville museum, a $100 prize will be awarded to the top poetry or essay reading selections in each category -- elementary school, middle school and high school.

Located at 129 Aubrey St. in Cartersville, the Heritage Museum is housed inside the former Summer Hill High School, now referred to as the Summer Hill Educational and Recreational Complex. The school, which sat vacant for about 30 years after closing in the early 1970s, was rebuilt in 2003 by the Etowah Area Consolidated Housing Authority using the original blueprints. The $1.5 million project enabled the Housing Authority to utilize the 10,000-square-foot facility for its after-school and GED programs, in addition to the Summer Hill Heritage Museum.

Along with pictorial history panels, Hill said, the museum is preserving the personal histories of living and deceased black residents, such as Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham, Tuskegee Airman John Henry Morgan, Vietnam War Veteran Lorenza Conner, the Rev. Jackey Beavers and Hill's late father, Matthew Douglas Hill.

For more information about the museum's Black History Month offerings, contact Hill at 770-873-3146.