Bradley Academy Museum kicks off Black History Month

Photos and story by Reana Gibson/Contributing Writer

The Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center hosted their “Black History: Past, Present, and Future” Black History event on Saturday to kick off the annual nationally-recognized Black History month.

Before it was a museum, Bradley Academy was established in 1811 as the first school in Rutherford County. The school only allowed white males before becoming the first school in Rutherford to provide a formal education for both male and female African American students in 1884.

“We kind of revamped it and turned it into a museum for people to come learn about this history,” said event coordinator Amanda Pratt. “There’s a lot of local people that have no idea that this is even here so it’s really important to share that history.”

“Black History: Past, Present, and Future” is the museum’s annual open house that is held every first weekend in February. Former Bradley students were invited and acted as the tour guides for the day. They told their stories and childhood experiences as students.

“You kids have it easy,” said Margaret Davis, one of the tour guides. Davis attended Bradley as a first grader in 1942, “We didn’t have buses. We had to walk every day. I passed by three white schools on the way to school.”

The museum hosted four different exhibit spaces: a genealogy portion held by former Bradley Historical Association member Charles Griffith which allowed visitors to search their ancestral roots on, a classroom that is modeled after how the classrooms looked when the museum was functioning as a school, and two exhibits that featured local Murfreesboro history. Art from local Black and African American artists was put on display in the gallery, which featured the theme of Black History or related African American experiences.

The museum had southern-cooked food such as meatloaf, collard greens, and peach cobbler, live musician Ernest B. Newsom and a step show by members of MTSU’s chapter of the fraternity Omega Psi Phi in the upstairs part of the museum.
“I believe this museum is an excellent education and awareness facility,” stated Museum Director Voncelle Stembridge.

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