Historical Jewels in Jacksonville
In honor of Black History Month, here are ten historic African-American sites in Jacksonville to visit, recommended by Jada Wright-Greene of HeritageSalon.org.
5. Eartha M. White Museum
One of the most important things to my grandmother who raised me was to give back. Every Sunday we were visiting a family member or a church member at the Eartha M. White Nursing Home. Eartha M. White was a humanitarian, philanthropist and the founder of the Clara White Mission. The Mission has been operating for over 100 years serving the community, providing meals and housing for the homeless. The Eartha M. White Museum is preserving the legacy of Eartha M. White and Clara White. The museum exhibitions highlight their daily lives and work.
4. Old Brewster Hospital
The Old Brewster Hospital was one of the first organizations where my grandmother, Elnora Sampson worked. Built in 1895 as a private residence, the hospital served as the first facility to serve the African American community. In 1931 the hospital was located in a building on North Jefferson Street. During this time my grandmother worked as a clerk.
3. Durkeeville Historic Neighborhood
The Durkeville community was found in the 1930’s for African Americans who were not able to live in other parts of Jacksonville. African Americans were middle class and working class residents which included doctors, lawyers and educators. My grandmother visited this area monthly when we attended meetings at the Dallas Graham Library.
2. Ritz Theater & Museum
Jacksonville was known as the Harlem of the South, that was full of culture and entertainment. The Ritz Theater was constructed and operated as the movie house specifically for the African American community during the 1930s. During a visit to the museum, I located a photo of my great grandfather, Joseph L. Grant, Sr. As the co-owner of the Jacksonville Bears, a semi-pro football franchise from 1944-48, he also was an Entertainment Promoter who brought African-American entertainers to Jacksonville. Several photos are on display at the Ritz Museum today.
1. Bishop Henry Y. Tookes House/Gamma Rho Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha
Jacksonville had several wealthy African American families that lived in the community of Sugar Hill. The home located at 1011 W. Eighth St. was occupied by Bishop Tookes and his wife Maggie during the late 1930s. Today the house is owned by my sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. As a little girl I passed this house many days imagining that I was a member of the sorority.
Jacksonville has tons of more sites, homes and buildings that capture the rich history of the community. I strongly encourage you to visit these sites and more to support and learn the history of Jacksonville.
Article by By Jada Wright-Greene. Jada Wright-Greene is a museum activist, writer, independent museum professional and a lover of history. She is the self-proclaimed African American Museum Activist. She has a passion for revitalizing and bringing awareness to the African-American museum culture with a goal of diversifying the museum profession. Jada is the Founder & President of Heritage Salon, a nonprofit and magazine devoted to African-American museums, historic sites/homes and cultural institutions. She has served as a keynote speaker, panelist and lecturer on the topic of arts education, museums, and diversity throughout the United States. Jada is an avid writer and was a contributor for Huffington Post. She has written for several blogs, magazines and publications including; Black Southern Belle and the American Alliance of Museums Center for Museums Education blog. In the Fall of 2016, she was a guest lecturer at Harvard Extension School where she shared her expertise on African American museums. Jada earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Bethune-Cookman University, a Master’s degree from Michigan State University in Urban & Regional Planning and a certificate in Museum Studies, where she was the first African American to complete the Museum Studies program. Finally, she earned dual degrees from Johns Hopkins University in Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management. Jada resides in the Dallas, Texas area with her husband, Darryl and three children.